Over the past few months we have seen a lot of customers put off needed repairs and maintenance with the idea of “saving money”. With the Press constantly pushing “save” and “conserve” it is no wonder people feel this way. Well, after being in business for the past 34 years I have seen a few situations like this, and it never fails that those customers who put off maintenance and repairs end up paying a lot more than those who stay on top of things. The key to cutting automobile costs is regular maintenance and fixing problems right away. Below are five key things that you should always stay on top of no matter what. If you stay on top of these five things, we will be able to detect and prevent most major failures before they cost you a fortune.
#1 - 3000 Mile Service or AKA Oil Change
At 3A Automotive when you get an oil change it is not just replacing the oil and filter in your vehicle. We call it a 3000 mile service because every 3000 miles your vehicle should be inspected by a professional. Our 3000 mile service includes checking the belts, hoses, battery, all vehicle fluids, tires, brakes, lights, and wipers. It is a full inspection to ensure that not only is your car reliable but also safe. You never want to neglect getting this service.
#2 - Brake Inspection & Adjustment
When you get your oil changed at a “quick lube” station they do not check your brakes. They also don’t offer a service to make an adjustment to your brakes if your car needs this service. By regularly checking the brakes every 3000 miles, you can avoid having to replace extra parts when it is time to replace the pads. Also, if it is necessary for your brakes to be adjusted, you’ll want to stay on top of this service to ensure that you get the full life of your brakes.
#3 - Battery Check
Again, at 3A Automotive our 3000 mile service includes a battery check as part of the service. InArizonaa good battery will last up to five years even in the extreme heat. A battery test will indicate whether or not your battery will die in the next few weeks or months. Especially with the extreme heat ofPhoenixit is important to have this checked every 3000 miles.
#4 - Engine Cooling System
The fluid that cools your engine is called Antifreeze. It is a non-corrosive fluid that will not only absorb more heat than water boiling at +270 degrees Fahrenheit but also has a freezing point of as much as -62 degrees Fahrenheit. As this fluid gets old, it can clog the cooling system and inhibit your vehicle from keeping itself cool or warming up in the morning.
#5 Transmission Fluid Exchange
A new transmission is very expensive, yet most transmission failures on vehicles with less than 100,000 miles on them are due to a lack of service. All it takes is about $150 every 30,000 miles and the modern day transmission will last a long time. When transmission fluid gets dirty it does not lubricate and does not pull heat away from the transmission and ultimately it burns itself up.
All of these items listed above are checked out during our 3000 mile service. I hope this information helps you make the decision to stay on top of these key services. The more you put off the maintenance, the more it will cost you in the long run.
If you have any questions about what services your vehicle needs or what services it has already had please give us a call any time.
Jim Alauria, Owner
Low Tire Pressure = Poor Fuel Economy, Poor Tire Wear, Poor Steering
For every ten-degree drop in air temperature, there’s up to a 2-psi (pounds per square inch) drop in air pressure in your tires. In the Phoenix area that can easily put your tires 5-10 pounds low on air pressure. Now is a good time to have your tire pressure checked. The correct pressure for your tires is usually found in the owner’s manual or on the vehicle information sticker inside the driver’s door jam. Also, make sure you check the spare tire as well!
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)
For 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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
Drive safe, Arizona
The 3A Automotive Team
Our Family here at 3A Automotive here in Phoenix would like to thank all our service men and women this holiday weekend.