Go in prepared. Edmunds.com has a plethora of educational and how-to categories on its site. Davis compiled a maintenance schedule for a variety of cars. See the list here.
Schaffels also recommended purchasing a device that can plug into the car's port and diagnose why the check-engine or brake light is on; that part is available at do-it-yourself car-parts stores.
Here's a primer that will help keep you from getting scammed by mechanics.
"Be wary of inspections," Davis said. A 40,000-mile inspection package at $400, for example, will call for a check on everything from the oil and brake pads to the door hinges.
"You pay them $400 to tear your car apart and look for additional repairs to sell you," Davis said. "That's a great business model right there."
You don't need to replace or flush transmission fluids until 25,000 to 30,000 miles. Some cars won't need the transmission fluids touched for 50,000 to 60,000 miles, and some manufacturers are moving toward using fluid that never needs to be replaced.
Look at the brake pads yourself before committing to new pads and think about changing them yourself. "It's a really well-kept secret that changing a brake pad is pretty easy," Reed said. "People get freaked out with brakes thinking that if they don't do it correctly, the car won't stop. If there's a problem with your brakes, you'll know right away."
Don't fret either if the mechanic says the brakes are about 50% worn down. They don't need to be replaced until they're 85% to 90% worn.
Ask for the replaced parts. Some states may require that the old parts are given to car owners with the itemized bill. But know what you're getting. Davis said he once gave an established customer an old air-conditioning compressor rather than the water pump he replaced to make the point. "We had a nice discussion about what a water pump is, what it does and what it looks like," he said.
Put chalk marks on car tires before having them rotated. Tire rotation is important because it keeps the wear and tear on the tires even and it extends the life of the tires. With all the turning, stopping and parallel parking, the front tires wear out substantially quicker than the back.
When you have them rotated, you are swapping the front tires for the back, not side-to-side or crisscrossing. But it's tough to tell if the tires have been actually changed unless you put chalks marks on them -- say, FL for front left, RR for rear right, etc.
Tire rotations are directly tied to certain mileage marks. There's a 5,000-mile minimum by some manufacturers, but 7,500 miles is the average. Some tires don't have to be rotated for as many as 20,000 miles.
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Mr. Reed from Edmonds.com has NO idea what he is talking about when he writes....
"Probably the most common cause of the check-engine light is that the gas cap is not on tight enough," Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used.
People please disregard his lack of knowledge on a vehicles EVAP system. A loose or missing gas cap triggers the check engine light because of pressure lose in the tank, NOT because of extra oxygen in the gas lines.
""Probably the most common cause of the check-engine light is that the gas cap is not on tight enough," Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used."
So wrong it is not even funny... this right here is a huge red flag to ignore everything else wrote, if your gas cap is lose, the light is coming on because of a lack of vacuum when running the evap system test. It has not one thing to do with the fuel line, the light will also not go off once all the fuel is used... has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.
I'm a mechanic and the only reason the manufacturers recommened a 7500 mile service is to keep the service cost low to appeal to JD Powers ratings, all they are worried about is the car
making it out of warranty, I change my oil every 3000 miles, it's cheap insurance.
First, I would like to state my credentials. Not as a matter of ego but as a matter of credibility. My successful, professional automotive experience is greater than twenty-five years including positions as a Mercedes Benz Technician, BMW Technician, Technical Specialist/Trainer for BMW North America/UTI, and currently Service Manager for a Lexus dealer. I am ASE Master Certified as well as being Certified by several European and Japanese Automotive companies.
This article was anything but well researched or well written. It appears to be the usual stereotypical industry demonizing script over flowing with misinformation. Unfortunately, dishonest folk work in every business and industry in existence.
The statement the author made," The check-engine light is a sensor that is telling you that something is amiss in the car." is definitively WRONG! Go to any parts department and try to purchase a "Check Engine Light Sensor". You can not! Because it does not exist.
But it gets better. Here's the next problem with the information in this article.
" Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used."
That my friends is pure speak from the vertical line in between the two hills of someone's backside. Did the author ever consider consulting a industry professional? If one attempts to provide information to "help their fellow man" then do so in a virtuous and professional form.
Keep sludging your engines so I can replace them $$. 3k for good conventional and 5k for synthetic oil. Why do people not have time to think? Tires can cost $1000 on a good car and rotating them often only makes them ride better longer. You will have to spend money on your car. Do you wait until there is a turd in your underwear before you change it? This article is crazy. Everyone's an expert. Waters,Reed, and Davis? Who are these people? They are writers and editors. I have to go see my dentist to get my prostate checked and my gardener is doing my taxes. Buy my book and subscribe to my website. Send me your money and I will tell you how to deal with dishonest people because I know them and they are me. Anyone who has a dishonest perspective either is or has a friend who is and I don't trust them. There are a lot of good mechanics out there. Find one.
I've owned my own shop for 23 years and this is just another incompetent article. What I'm wondering is this. When a mechanic is found to be incompetent he is fired. When will that happen for people that write an article as full of flaws as this? Or the person in charge of allowing it to appear on the front page of a website? When will someone write an article titled "what your freelance writer doesn't want you to know"? I think number 1 on the list will be that he wrote the article at home after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey because he was depressed from looking at his stack of bills and need to make a quick buck so decided to jump on the "all mechanics are scoundrels" band wagon. How many wealthy auto mechanics does anyone know anyway? If we are so good at ripping off the poor innocent consumer then where is all the money?
One other thing about these articles. What we sell is our time. If a customer has some questions that's fine. We should educate them about their vehicle and guide them so it will last a long time with as little repairs and maintenance as possible but...now people read articles like this and I find myself having to defend things that I do against some baseless accusation started by self described experts on the internet. It's a business and if I have to spend a half an hour debating something back and forth because they can't come to grasp with the fact that everything on the internet isn't correct then they have to pay for my time. If you are ok with that then bring it on. I've been explaining and defending everything I do for 3 decades and I accept responsibility for every repair and am also aware of the liabilities. In our state a consumer can be awarded treble damages. So what about you writers and MSN? Are you ready to accept the same level of culpability as we are? If not then you aren't even in our league to begin with. You should research the ariticles you write and print as much and as well as we research the repairs your vehicle needs.
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Those shackled with student loan debt are increasingly being targeted by scams and shady companies promising relief.