In the rain should I pump my brakes?

We are getting a lot of rain this season so I thought I would clear up a question we often get here at 3A.

Although it only became a mandatory option in the USA in 2013, most vehicles manufactured over the past two decades have some sort of anti-lock braking system (ABS). The ABS is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels of your vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface when the brakes are applied. The ABS keeps the car from going into an uncontrolled skid because the tires are locked up. (Ever notice you don’t hear many of those long, terror-inducing skids at a stop light anymore?…That’s because most cars have ABS)



ABS_Amber_Symbol1The old days of “pumping the brakes” was an attempt to do exactly what the ABS does but at a rate of about 15 times per second. The sensors and computer running your car’s ABS are usually very reliable when the braking system is properly maintained. You can test your ABS out by heavily pressing the brake peddle while driving in a parking lot or on an empty street. If you have ABS and it is working properly your tires will not lock up and you will stop very quickly.

If your ABS light is illuminated on your dash, your ABS system is most likely disabled which is a safety concern that should be addressed for optimum braking and vehicle control.

The best way to avoid most ABS issues is to regularly replace all the brake fluid in your vehicle about every 20-30 thousand miles with a BRAKE FLUID FLUSH.

Enjoy the winter rain and drive safe. And, as always, thank you for your business

Jimmy AlauriaThank you,

Jimmy Alauria

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The Magic Bullet to Make Your Car Last Longer

If there is a magic bullet for making your car last, this is it……

mechanic changing oilFor over 40 years our customers have asked what the secret is to making a car last. Even though I could write a book on all the ways to do so, the fact is that people who drive their cars for 200,000 to 500,000 miles do ONE thing in common…..they get their oil changed by a professional mechanic every 3000-5000 miles religiously!

The reason why this works is pretty simple. The average person drives between 12-15 thousand miles per year. If your vehicle is getting an oil change by a professional 3-5 times per year, that professional is keeping an eye on the entire vehicle and can catch minor problems that are usually inexpensive to fix before they become major problems which are usually expensive to fix.

Having a professional mechanic change your oil every 3000-5000 miles gives you the following benefits:

  • The price is usually not that much more than what you could buy the oil and filter for yourself.
  • The professional has a bumper to bumper inspection that they do on every oil change that will keep you informed of your car’s condition.
  • They will usually check your brakes and rotate your tires as part of the service.
  • They can give you a maintenance plan that is spread out over time so you aren’t hit with everything all at once which keeps the monthly cost of ownership down significantly.
  • Most mechanics are passionate about making cars last unlike the dealership whose purpose is selling new cars.

Changing your oil every 3000-5000 miles is the MAGIC BULLET in my opinion to making your car last and saving you a lot of your hard-earned money!

3 Tips for Buying a Used Car

Jimmy AlauriaBuying a used car will usually get you a much better value for your money than when buying a new car. But it is understandable why many people won’t buy a used car because they have been burned in the past. By following these three simple tips you can have success in buying a great used vehicle.

Tip #1 – Have Your Mechanic Inspect The Car BEFORE You Buy The Car

You can’t imagine how many “Buyer’s Inspections” we do AFTER the customer has already bought the car being inspected. Sure, you might need to move quickly on a great deal, but no deal, in my opinion, is too good to forego a professional’s objective opinion on the vehicle’s condition. Any reputable auto repair shop will do this inspection for $50-$100 which is money very well spent. They will check the condition of all the fluids, tires, brakes, hoses and belts. They will also drive the car so they can listen and feel for anything that may be abnormal and need to be repaired once you buy it.

Tip #2 – Beware Of The Armor All & Steam Clean Trick

A lot of used cars go through a process before they are put up for sale whether at a dealership or when being sold by a private seller. Detailing the inside of the car and a good wash/wax on the outside is to be expected of somebody trying to get top dollar for their car. But what you want to beware of is the super-clean engine compartment that shines like the car is brand spanking new. When a car’s engine has been meticulously steam cleaned, it is almost impossible for anybody to see if there are any leaks. A well-maintained, leak-free used car usually does not require the seller to do very much to the engine. I’m always extra cautious when something looks too clean.

Tip #3 – Ask For The Maintenance Records

Many people go to the same auto repair shop and oil change stations for all of their maintenance or repairs. So even if they don’t have a file with all the records, they should easily be able to call the shops and get copies of what has been done. This is a very good way to see what kind of maintenance has been done to the car as well as if any major repairs have been done in the past. We have a lot of customers who spend thousands of dollars over several years maintaining their cars. A car that has been well maintained with records to back it should give you a little added peace-of-mind that you are buying the right car.

For more information give us a call at 3A Automotive Service (602)997-7978 or visit to schedule a Buyer’s Inspection.

What’s That Noise?

I took a walk around the block today and noticed a lot of cars on the road.  Anyone living here knows that wherever you turn you will see some kind of vehicle driving down the road.  Being in tune with cars, having worked on them for most of my life, when I see a car pass and hear a noise my attention goes directly to that car.  As a matter of fact I heard a car this morning that was driving around the block and picked up that it was not running properly.  Now being trained to fix car problems (it’s in my blood!) I thought to myself, what about the person behind the wheel?  Are they even aware of the noise, or the smell or whatever?  I believe that is why people rely on a professional.  Professionals know the ins and outs of a vehicle and it is in their blood.

So what does this have to do with you?  Over the years in dealing with different people and their car problems, when explaining the situation with their car, I am amazed at the number of times the customer tells me that they noticed a problem but were not sure if it was anything to be concerned about. So a lot of the time they know!

You are more perceptive than you give yourself credit for.  Nobody knows your car better than you do and if something doesn’t sound or feel right most likely you are correct.  So when you notice anything with your vehicle, the best way to avoid costly problems is to give your mechanic a call right away.  They will most likely go for a ride with you to make sure that they hear exactly what you hear.  From there they can ensure that your car is safe and reliable and you can take all the credit for the diagnosis.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy mechanic, check out our auto repair shop in Phoenix.

An Education in Car Care

I feel like such a fool, Sandra complained. “All I did was take my car in for an oil change and wound up paying for oil, an oil filter and an air filter. Plus, he called to tell me my fan belt was shot, I had to get one of those installed.”

“How am I supposed to know if the old one really was in bad shape? How am I supposed to know if they took advantage of me?”

Hold it right there, Sandra. While it’s good to be a conscientious consumer, when it comes to automotive repair, it’s best to let the professionals do what they do best. By calling your attention to a condition that can put you at risk, the service technician is doing what he’s supposed to do. If you choose not to have a faulty part replaced, you have no one to blame but yourself if the belt breaks on the open road.

That “fan” belt also drives the air conditioning compressor  the alternator which charges your battery, the power steering and more. It’s not the kind of thing you want to ignore, nor does your technician. Maybe Sandra has seen too many of those TV shows that sensationalize disreputable mechanics, along with their counterparts in other businesses and professions.

We find that when customers ask questions about repairs and gain the knowledge on why something needs to be done, they are better equipped to take a proactive approach to keeping good care of their car.  As a consumer of automotive service, you should look for a shop that will take the time to “show & tell” and explain what and why you need the repairs they are recommending.  I always like to take my customers out to their car and physically show them what I’m talking about.  This approach is used by most reputable repair shops and although you may not like spending money repairing your car, at least you will understand what you’re hard earned money is buying.

4 Quick Money Saving Tips

empty wallet from auto repairs

Everyone who has been to that gas pump lately has seen an increase in the price of a gallon of fuel.  Experts predict that prices will continue to rise with some even saying it could be over the $5 per gallon mark this summer.  With prices that high we all need to find ways to save.  Here are some tips I have found throughout the years to improve gas mileage.

First, letting your car idle for long periods of time to warm up is no longer needed or recommended. Turn the car on for 30 seconds and then go.  As long as your aren’t pulling right out of your driveway onto the freeway at 70 mph you’ll be fine.  Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons everyday by voluntarily idling their vehicles.  Today’s vehicles run inefficiently when idling and are more efficient to start.  Now obviously you aren’t going to shut off your car every time you are at a stoplight, but next time you are waiting for that train to pass or are waiting for somebody to get out of the grocery store you’ll save more fuel by shutting the car off than letting it idle.

Second, make sure you keep your tires properly inflated.  This actually does two things for you.  It helps ensure you won’t prematurely wear out your tires by having too much or too little air in them.  We have all seen those “highway crocodiles” (long pieces of tire tread) when driving on any of our highways.  That usually happens by riding on under-inflated tires too long.  Also, properly inflated tires will maximize your fuel economy.  Having under-inflated tires will cause more friction and decrease your fuel economy.   Most auto repair shops will adjust your pressure for you at no cost.

Third, make sure you keep your engine air, cabin and fuel filters clean.  A dirty engine air filter restricts the amount of air the engine gets.  Starving the engine for air will decrease fuel economy. Just think of a fireplace that doesn’t have enough air.  A dirty cabin air filter can cause debris to get into the blower motor and possibly cause damage.  And just like your home AC unit, when there is a restriction of air flow then it will have to run more often to cool the car which requires the engine to burn more fuel.  And a dirty fuel filter can allow debris to clog or damage the fuel injectors.  All three of these filters are usually pretty inexpensive to replace and a reputable auto repair shop can tell you when you should replace each of them.

Finally, make sure your fluids are all topped off and clean.  Fluids are designed to cool and lubricate the systems they are in.  When fluids break down they lose some of their ability to lubricate and cool properly thus causing abnormal wear and tear.  Most top auto repair shops will not only top off your fluids for you as part of their oil change service, but they will also check them for you any time just for your peace of mind.

The old cliché of  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” is very true when it comes to saving money on fuel and the routine maintenance of your vehicle.  Take care of the little things regularly and I assure you that you will save money in the long haul.

3A Is Pitching In After Sandy


There are numerous relief efforts and volunteers still pouring in to the Northeast. At 3A Automotive, we feel that we carry a responsibility to do our part. We want to give you an opportunity to help, too.

For the month of November, 3A Automotive will donate $5 from every auto repair we perform to Hurricane Sandy relief. When you come into the shop to get any car repair work done this month, another $5 is going to help those in need. Click here to make an appointment today: Set an appointment

Our donations go to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has provided over 23,000 overnight shelter stays since Saturday to those in communities in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffering from power outages, wind damage, and flooding. These financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support, and other assistance to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

If you want to donate directly to the Red Cross efforts, click the image below to go to their page:

Donate to Hurricane Sandy Relief

Drive safe, Arizona

The 3A Automotive Team

Happy Holiday Weekend

Our Family here at 3A Automotive her in Phoenix would like to thank all our service men and women this holiday weekend.
Everyone please have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

Buying Tips on Pre-Owned Cars

We often have customers who are ready for a newer vehicle yet they don’t want to take on the hefty payments of a brand new car. And according to many financial advisors, buying a brand new vehicle isn’t always the wisest financial move for most household budgets. So how can you get a newer car, save some cash and ensure you are not buying into somebody else’s auto repair nightmare?

Whether you buy a pre-owned vehicle like a Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Range Rover, Land Rover, Nissan, Infinity, Diesel or Hybrid, from a dealer or from an independent seller, the number one most important thing you can do is to have that vehicle inspected by a non-bias third party mechanic. Ideally, this is your trusted auto repair shop in Phoenix. Most of the top repair shops have a very affordable Buyer’s Inspection service that allows you to have a professional technician comb through the entire vehicle BEFORE YOU BUY.

A professional auto mechanic’s eye will catch things that the average consumer will not. For example, if you open the hood of a vehicle on a car lot you will usually find a clean, bright and shiny engine compartment. The dealership has detailed every aspect of that vehicle leading an excited buyer to believe that it is a well-maintained machine. A properly performed buyer’s inspection done by a professional mechanic will detect most leaks even on a clean engine. And they will check the fluids inside the engine and other moving components to ensure there isn’t any “red flags” that you can’t see from the outside. They will also base the condition of the hoses and belts on the car by their feel and signs of wear rather than the shine the dealer has put on them.

The professional is also looking for things like uneven door and fender lines, which can indicate a wreck in the car’s past. They will pick the vehicle up on a lift and look for any overspray, new undercar coating, or new fender/bumper brackets that can also be an indicator of past damage.

Finally, they will drive the vehicle. A professional drives dozens of different cars a week. They know when something on that car doesn’t feel right, sound right or look right.

A properly performed Buyer’s Inspection at your local auto repair shop in Phoenix is well worth the investment. Most of the time the automotive mechanic will give you enough information on future repairs and service, that you can negotiate the price down to cover the inspection and the future services.

So when you are looking to update your vehicle make sure to get professional advice before you sign any contracts. Having to deal with Lemon Laws and Warranties after the purchase is a lot more of a hassle than having your trusted auto repair shop help you make a wise purchasing decision.