Archive for the ‘collision repair’ Category

Protect Your Auto Investment

December 5, 2016

Choose a shop that employees ASE-certified auto technicians to ensure your vehicle maintenance and repair dollars are wisely spent.

Studies from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) show vehicles that receive regular maintenance and service retain more of their value, get better gasoline mileage, and pollute less than cars that are neglected. But today’s computer-loaded systems leave many former do-it-yourselfers hesitant to do much weekend tinkering. What’s a conscientious vehicle owner to do?

How Consumers Benefit from ASE Certification

Finding a competent auto repair professional should not be difficult … and with that guiding principle, the nonprofit, independent ASE was founded in 1972.

The mission was clear: Develop a mechanism by which working auto technicians could prove their competence to themselves, their employers, and to consumers.

The solution: A series of national certification exams covering all major automotive repair and service specialties.

The result: An elite group of automotive service professionals at work in repair establishments throughout the nation.

Why Use ASE-Certified Auto Technicians?

Consumers benefit from ASE’s certification program because it takes much of the guesswork out of finding a competent technician.

Perhaps years ago, any shade-tree mechanic would do; after all, cars were simpler, less complex. But with today’s high-tech vehicles — family sedans, sports coupes, rugged SUVs, and powerful pickups — the margin for error is small because mistakes are more costly. It makes good financial sense, then, to protect your sizeable automotive investment through regular maintenance and service performed by ASE-certified professionals.

Because the program is voluntary, technicians who have taken the time and expense to earn ASE certification can be counted on to have a strong sense of pride in accomplishment and professionalism — which should be good news for consumers. Moreover, prior to taking ASE exams, many technicians attend training classes or study on their own in order to brush up on their knowledge. The time they spend sharpening their skills translates directly to the work they perform on vehicles every day on the job.

How Does ASE Certification Work?

More than 100,000 candidates sit for ASE exams each year. These exams — the only independent national certification tests available to automotive professionals — are developed and regularly updated by representatives from the service and repair industry, vocational educators, working technicians, and ASE’s own in-house technical specialists. The exams stress real-world diagnostic and repair problems, not theory.

Mechanics who pass at least one exam and fulfill the hands-on work experience requirement earn the title of “ASE-Certified Automobile Technician,” while those who pass all eight automotive exams earn “Master Auto Technician” status. There are also tests for parts specialists, collision repair technicians, automotive service consultants, and segments of the repair industry. however, ASE certification is not a designation for life; technicians must recertify every five years in order to demonstrate a commitment to continuing education and staying abreast of constantly changing technologies.

How to Find an ASE Professional

ASE technicians can be found at every type of repair facility: new car dealerships, independent garages, service stations, franchised outlets, collision shops, tire dealers, parts stores and more. There are more than 360,000 ASE-certified professionals at work nationally. Repair facilities employing ASE professionals usually display the distinctive blue and white ASE sign on the premises and post their technicians’ credentials in their customer service areas.

Employers often include the ASE logo in their advertising as well. Further, establishments with a high percentage of certified pros on staff may display evidence of membership in the elite Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program. ASE-certified professionals are issued shoulder insignia or lapel pins, as well as personalized credentials and wall certificates listing their exact areas of certification.

For additional information and seasonal car care tips visit http://www.ase.com. ASE joins the automotive aftermarket industry in recognizing April as National Car Care Month.

Choosing the Right Repair Shop: A Checklist

ASE certifies individual technicians — not repair establishments. But it stands to reason that shop owners who encourage their technicians to become ASE certified will be just as proactively involved in the other aspects of their businesses as well. Here are some tips on finding a good repair establishment:

•Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one.

•Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations; consult local consumer groups.

•Arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based solely on location.

•Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.

•Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions.

•Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees, acceptable methods of payment, etc.

•Ask if the repair facility specializes in or regularly performs your type of needed repair work.

•Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community, or customer service awards.

•Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced courses, and ASE certification.

•Look for the ASE sign.

•Facilities with a high percentage of ASE-certified professionals may also be members of the elite Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program. Ask the shop if it is a member of the program

October is Fall Car Care Month

September 26, 2016

As autumn descends, the Car Care Council would like to remind motorists of the many benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair. October is Fall Car Care Month and a great opportunity to make sure that your vehicle is ready for winter and up-to-date on all maintenance.

Taking time out to check on your vehicle’s condition is an important part of taking care of your second largest investment. Results of vehicle check-ups at community car care events across the country last year revealed that 80 percent of vehicles need service or parts.

“Small steps that motorists take today can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of their vehicles,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Regular car care can also help avoid costly repairs down the road, saving both time and money.”

In celebration of Fall Car Care month, many shops across the country will be holding free vehicle check-up events. To see if an event is being held near you, visit the Event Finder on the Car Care Council’s Web site at http://www.carcare.org/find-an-event.

Another way to celebrate Fall Car Care Month without even leaving home is to visit the Car Care Council’s free Car Care Guide online at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide. The guide includes information on service interval schedules, questions to ask your technician and how to increase your vehicle’s fuel economy to save money on gas.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information or to receive a copy of the council’s new Car Care Guide for motorists, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Beware of Potholes

February 25, 2016

They’re back and they’re bad. Potholes have returned and hitting one with your car can do a number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs provided by the Car Care Council.

•Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.

•Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.

•Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

“Every driver knows what it feels like to hit a pothole. What they don’t know is if their vehicle has been damaged in the process. If you’ve hit a pothole, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make the necessary repairs to ensure safety and reliability,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement – usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic – and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

National Standards Help Consumers Locate Qualified Automotive Technicians

March 19, 2014

Car owners know they should keep their vehicles in good operating condition, but often they do not know where to turn for dependable service or what to look for in a repair shop.

Some choose a repair shop based solely on its convenient location or an advertised special. Not the best move, according to officials with the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, also known as ASE. “Look for the ASE sign,” says Tony Molla, vice president of communications at ASE. “It indicates the repair shop employs one or more ASE-certified technicians.” Molla emphasizes that finding a competent auto technician need not be a matter of chance. Much of the guesswork has been eliminated, thanks to a national program conducted by ASE: “Qualified technicians are the backbone of any repair establishment,” he adds.

ASE tests and certifies automotive professionals in all major technical areas of repair and service. With more than 360,000 currently certified professionals, the ASE program is national in scope and has industry-wide acceptance and recognition. ASE-certified technicians and parts specialists can be found at every type of repair facility, from dealerships, service stations, and franchises to parts stores, independent garages, and even municipal fleet yards.

Certification Benefits Motorists

ASE certifies the technical competence of individual technicians, not repair facilities where they work. Before taking ASE certification tests, many technicians attend training classes or study on their own in order to update their knowledge. By passing difficult, national tests, ASE-certified technicians prove their technical competence not only to themselves, but to their employers and their customers. ASE does not certify repair shops or monitor individual business practices, but it stands to reason that those shop owners and managers who support their employees’ efforts to become ASE-certified often will be just as proactively involved in the other aspects of their businesses as well, says Molla.

How Certification Works

ASE certification exams are offered eight months a year across the country in secure, proctored test sites across the U.S. and Canada. The tests are developed by industry experts with oversight from ASE’s own in-house pros and are designed to measure on-the-job competency. Technicians who pass at least one exam and fulfill the two-year work experience requirement carry the “ASE-Certified Technician” designation. Those who pass a battery of exams and fulfill the experience requirement earn “Master Technician” status.
There are specialty exams covering all major areas of repair. There are nine tests for auto technicians alone: Engine Repair, Engine Performance, Diesel Engine, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Brakes, Heating and Air Conditioning, Suspension and Steering, Manual Drive Train and Axles, and Automatic Transmissions. There are also exams for collision repair, school bus and transit bus technicians, damage estimators, parts specialists, and others.

ASE certification is not a designation for life, however. All ASE credentials have expiration dates, and ASE requires automotive service professionals to retest every five years to demonstrate a commitment to continuing education and stay abreast of continually changing technologies in order to retain certification.

Finding ASE-Certified Technicians

Repair establishments with at least one ASE technician are permitted to display the blue and white ASE sign and often do outside and inside their facilities. Each ASE professional is issued personalized credentials listing his or her exact area(s) of certification and an appropriate shoulder insignia. Technicians are also issued certificates that employers often post in the customer-service area.

Businesses with a high level of commitment to the ASE program (75 percent of service personnel certified) are entitled to a special “Blue Seal of Excellence” recognition from ASE, with distinctive yellow and blue signage. These elite facilities are among the best in the national. More than 1,500 businesses participate in this growing program.

As with other professionals — physicians come to mind — automotive technicians often specialize. So it’s wise to ask the shop owner or service manager for a technician who is certified in the appropriate area, say, brakes, engine repair, or air conditioning.

Vehicle owners can visit the ASE website – http://www.ase.com – for more information about certified automotive technicians, as well as seasonal car care tips and more

8 Signs That Your Car Has Pothole Damage

February 25, 2014

A pothole can be your car’s worst enemy. These holes or pits on a road’s surface can seriously damage a vehicle’s ride control system.

If you do drive over a pothole, the Car Care Council recommends that you have your car’s shocks or struts checked to make sure they aren’t damaged.

Shocks and struts control how vehicles ride and handle. According to the Car Care Council, the shock absorbers, or struts as they are referred to on late-model vehicles, act as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of a car’s springs. The springs absorb the road bumps; without them, the vehicle would continually bounce and bound down the road, making driving extremely difficult.

Shocks and struts also control spring and suspension movement to keep the tires in contact with the road. This affects steering, stability and braking. A broken shock or strut could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create driving dangers. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs that your vehicle’s shocks or struts may need to be replaced.

•The vehicle rolls or sways on turns.
•The vehicle’s front-end dives when braking.
•The vehicle’s rear end squats when accelerating.
•The vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding, rough road.
•The vehicle “bottoms out” or thumps on bumps.
•The vehicle sits lower in the front or rear.
•The vehicle is leaking or has signs of physical damage, such as rusting or dents.
•There’s a loss of directional control during sudden stops of the vehicle.

Many components affect a vehicle’s handling. Having your car inspected, if you experience any of the above signs, is good preventive maintenance and can help its parts wear less and last longer.

“If you think you may have a worn out or broken shock or strut, don’t wait,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Whether you replace it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, this situation should be taken care of right away.” The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair. To see the Car Care Council’s free service interval schedule, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Drivers Beware! The Perils of Potholes Are Upon Us

January 21, 2014

As the ravages of winter subside and temperatures rise, there is probably a pothole out there with your name on it, cautions the Car Care Council. Record cold temperatures, snow and rainfall in many parts of the country have created the perfect storm for the motorists’ dreaded “perils of potholes period.”

Drivers know immediately when they hit a pothole. The heart-stopping, teeth-jarring noise is hard to mistake. However, it’s not always immediately clear if hitting the pothole caused damage to the vehicle, and to what extent.

Hitting a pothole can damage tires, wheels, steering and suspension, wheel alignment and more. The Car Care Council recommends that motorists who experience any of the following warning signs after hitting a pothole should have a professional technician at their local repair shop inspect the vehicle.

Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.

Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.

Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

If you have hit a pothole, the Car Care Council can help you find a repair shop in your area. The council’s website features a “Find a Shop” locator.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Daylight Savings Time Ends November 3rd, Check Vehicle Lights

October 31, 2013

The end of Daylight Savings Time happens in most parts of the United States on Sunday, November 3rd and creates unfamiliar driving conditions that can be hazardous without proper vehicle lighting. The Car Care Council recommends vehicle lights be checked before the clocks “fall back” to help ensure safe driving, especially during dusk and peak evening traffic hours.

A vehicle’s lighting system includes headlights (high and low beam), parking lights, turn signals/emergency flashers, brake lights, tail and marker lights, backup lights, interior lights and instrumentation lighting. Some vehicles are also equipped with fog lights.

Headlights should also be periodically cleaned of mud and muck, and properly aimed according to procedures outlined in the owner’s manual. Headlights can be knocked out of alignment by rough driving, and if not properly aimed, can be distracting to other drivers.

Vehicle inspections during National Car Care Month in the United States have shown lighting to be an often neglected maintenance item, with 8 percent of vehicles inspected needing work on at least one of their turn signals, and 6 percent having problems with at least one of their brake lights.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information or to receive a copy of the council’s new Car Care Guide for motorists, visit http://www.carcare.org.

“Cash for Clunkers” Deal is Peanuts Compared to Good Ol’ Vehicle Maintenance

August 9, 2009

Routine vehicle maintenance for an entire year costs a consumer less than a single monthly new car payment and would be significantly more successful in reducing gasoline use and pollution than the “Cash for Clunkers” program, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). Vehicle maintenance would save consumers $30 billion in gasoline a year vs. spending $3 billion in taxpayer dollars to buy new cars.

While the “Cash for Clunkers” program is estimated to save 72 million gallons of gasoline each year, simple vehicle maintenance would save more than 12 billion gallons of gasoline a year (equivalent to all of the gasoline used in Illinois, Michigan and Connecticut in one year). Additionally, vehicle maintenance does not require a dime of taxpayer money and doesn’t require destroying perfectly good used vehicles that could be sold or donated to people who cannot afford a new car, reports AAIA.

“Understandably the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program is wildly popular among new car dealers, car makers and those consumers who have the ability to buy a new vehicle. However, the majority of Americans cannot afford a new car payment today, but they probably can afford to trade up to a newer used vehicle or make their current vehicle more fuel-efficient,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO.

“Doesn’t it make more sense to give a tax credit or other incentive to the majority of Americans to improve the fuel efficiency, safety and dependability of their current vehicle, rather than taking their tax dollars to help a small minority of consumers and pump up new car dealer profits?” Schmatz said.

AAIA opposes the “Cash for Clunkers” program for the following reasons:

  • The program destroys many vehicles that are not even close to being defined as “clunkers” with years of remaining life and use.
  • Destroyed vehicles are removed from the market forever, depriving consumers who seek to purchase a used vehicle or charities in need of donated vehicles.
  • It hurts the aftermarket companies that manufacture, distribute, sell and install vehicle parts on used vehicles, and those who rebuild/remanufacture vehicle parts.
  • Resources and energy use is multiplied when a vehicle is destroyed and a new one is built to replace it.
  • The majority of vehicles being traded in are domestic, and the majority of new vehicles being sold are foreign.
  • The program entices consumers to purchase a new car that they might not be able to afford and certainly to go further in debt, reminiscent to the sub-prime home mortgage debacle.
  • The program is regressive since only those at higher income levels who can afford to purchase a new car will qualify for the $4,500 voucher, while destroying used cars that could be purchased by lower income families, most in need of assistance in obtaining transportation.

Consumers interested in learning exactly how vehicle maintenance will save money should visit the Car Care Council Web site at www.carcare.org.

Cool Runnin’

August 3, 2009

Today’s Coolant Products are Formulated for Long Life and Winning Performance

TV ads for sports beverages that are formulated to keep your body properly hydrated, while restoring vitamins and minerals that you need to perform properly under hot and demanding conditions, should serve as a reminder that your car is much like the body of a world-class athlete. When sufficiently fueled and fortified with the proper fluids; your car, truck or SUV should get you from the starting block to the finish line…without working up a sweat or stopping for a breather along the way.

The next time you are cooling off with a sports drink after running or working out, take a few minutes to make sure your car’s engine is also properly hydrated. ( Caution: Attempting to remove radiator cap when system is hot can result in severe burns and other injury. Allow sufficient time for engine to cool after driving.)

1. Pop the hood

2. Find the coolant reservoir (usually a white, semi-clear plastic receptacle with black cap) and look to see if the coolant level is at or near the FULL COOL indicator line.

3. If the vehicle’s coolant system level is low, add a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze/coolant and clean water.

That’s it! This simple procedure can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars in engine repairs, along with helping to ensure that you and your passengers are not stranded in cold and unsafe conditions.

Global Antifreeze/Coolant Ends Confusion

To make it even easier to maintain your car’s cooling system, leading manufacturers have introduced advanced global formula products that can be used in any automobile, regardless of make, model, year or original antifreeze color – including GM DEX-COOL ® and new Ford and Chrysler coolants.

“If you can’t remember the last time you checked the antifreeze in each of your family vehicles, you should definitely take a few minutes to make sure they have a sufficient fill of antifreeze before winter weather arrives,” recommends Susan Sperling, brand manager for PEAK ® Performance Products, makers of PEAK ® Long Life Coolant/Antifreeze.

Designed with a phosphate-free and silicate-free formula that is compatible with all domestic, Asian and European OEM specifications, PEAK ® Long Life provides 150,000 miles or 5 years of maximum protection when a complete cooling system flush and fill is performed.

Available fully formulated, for complete flush and fill applications, or a 50/50 pre-diluted formula, PEAK features an amber color that will not change the current antifreeze color when used for topping off. “Instead of hesitating or spending time trying to sort out the confusing color codes that carmakers have come up with, consumers can now use a single extended life antifreeze/coolant with total confidence that it will perform well and keep their warranty intact,” said PEAK’s Sperling.

To Flush & Fill…or Top-Off

If you changed your antifreeze recently, but your system level is low, this may be an indication that you have a leaky hose or loose radiator hose clamp. Any hoses that show signs of wear, leakage, cracking or rotting should be replaced. After making necessary repairs, use an antifreeze ball tester (available at any auto parts store) to make sure that the antifreeze-to-water ratio is correct. Then, top-off with a “ready to use” mixture of antifreeze/water such as PEAK ® Long Life 50/50 Pre-Diluted Antifreeze & Coolant.

If your coolant system level is drastically low or the glycol-to-water ratio is not correct, you might consider flushing the system and then filling it with a fresh antifreeze and water mixture to bring it back within operating specifications. “ Flushing and filling a car’s cooling system with a fresh mixture of antifreeze and water is easier than most people think…and it’s one of the smartest things vehicle owners can do to protect their investment and help ensure uninterrupted performance,” said PEAK’s Sperling.

According to Sperling, the Flush and Fill process can be broken down into 10 Easy Steps:

Step 1: Clean the radiator
Step 2: Place a drain pan
Step 3: Remove the radiator pressure cap
Step 4: Inspect the pressure cap & hoses
Step 5: Drain the radiator
Step 6: Rinse the radiator
Step 7: Add the coolant and water mixture
Step 8: Bleed the system
Step 9: Replace the pressure cap
Step 10: Clean up

For details about these steps and the importance of maintaining your vehicle’s cooling system or to learn more about the advanced technology that goes into universal antifreeze/coolants such as PEAK Long Life, visit their website at www.peakantifreeze.com or call (800) 323-5440.

Balancing Wheels and Peace of Mind

July 29, 2009

Properly balanced wheels have long been recognized to help provide improved ride quality, better gas mileage and reduced tire wear, making wheel balancing an important part of car care and maintenance.

For decades wheel weights have largely consisted of chunks of lead clamped to the wheel rim. Lead has traditionally been used to make wheel weights because it is cheap and heavy, allowing the use of relatively small weights to balance wheels. However, the highly toxic metal can cause brain damage and other nervous-system disorders in people.

Each year an estimated 70,000 tons of lead are used globally to manufacture wheel weights. (Source: Lead Free Wheels, a project of the Ecology Center) Banned by the European Union in 2005, lead weights are being phased out in Japan and South Korea, and will be phased out in California during 2009, with more states to follow. Zinc wheel weights also are being scrutinized, and a ban on these weights has been proposed in Washington State.

An Effective Alternative
3M, a producer of lead-free wheel weights and one of the first manufacturers of composite-based weights, offers a system that is specially designed to have less impact on the environment than lead wheel weights. It is also corrosion resistant so it doesn’t leave rust and stains on the wheel.

The material is flexible and can be custom cut to the exact weight required for precision-balanced wheels, which can help improve gas mileage and provide a smoother ride. The weights are attached with proven 3M™ Automotive Attachment Tape that has been used in the automotive industry for decades, building confidence that the weights will stay put for the long haul.

Next time you bring your vehicle in for wheel balancing, ask for the latest innovation from 3M and keep your wheels balanced the lead-free way.

For more information, click on www.3M.com/wheelweights, or call 800-328-1684.