Extended Service Contract/Warranty or just an Extended Payment Scam?
I don't buy a new car very often, so when I decided years ago to purchase a Prius hybrid after lots of research I was pretty comfortable with my decision. The sales person assured me that it was a very well engineered and thought out car with all the latest technological advances and best quality I could ask for.
After deciding which model, options and color I wanted, we struck a deal we were both comfortable with, and I thought we were done. Time to sign the papers.....with someone else. The finance manager or whatever their title was, had the contract with all the numbers and very small legal print. As he explained the various charges and fees, he asked me: "You DO want the extended warranty don't you? What if one of those computers suddenly fails, they sure are expensive".
I am thinking to myself: "The salesperson has just spent hours telling me how great this car is and now I am being told that all sorts of expensive parts may fail and that I should pay thousands of dollars extra to protect myself just in case something breaks that isn't covered by the factory warranty?" This hit me like an insult, and I was not buying into these scare tactics.
I didn't buy the extended warranty for $2995 plus 6% interest (which over 5 years adds over $500 more), and never had anything break that would have been covered by it.
The sad fact is that many people DO buy these extended warranties. Our customers come in on a regular basis, saying that they need service or have a problem with their vehicle and proudly state that they have an extended warranty or service contract that will cover their repairs.
Unfortunately, the customer is almost always wrong thinking everything is covered by their expensive extended warranty. Most service agreements or warranty contracts DO NOT cover regular service or maintenance items, they don't cover things that normally wear like brakes, suspension parts or belts that have worn out. They are written by lawyers and service professionals that are gambling that what is covered by the contract will never need repairs.
You may have heard or seen the ads that say that you never have to pay for car repairs again if you pay for their service plan. But you DO have to pay for the warranty/service contract coverage, don't you? If you spend $2000 at a casino during the year and win $200 back one weekend, are you really winning? Maybe 1 person out of 20 needs an expensive repair that might be covered, but do you want to be one of the other 19 paying their bill? Chances are very good that you will be.
I can't stress this next piece of information strongly enough: Read all the fine print carefully before signing. Do you have to pay a deductible for each claim? Is the company allowed to install used or rebuilt parts? I had one customer with a broken transmission on his truck which had 70,000 miles on it and the warranty company wanted me to install a used transmission with 150,000 miles on it! What is the warranty on the repaired part? I know the salesperson is breathing down your neck and you both want to be done with the paperwork, but if you are going to spend another 2 or 3 THOUSAND DOLLARS of your hard earned money, he can wait for fifteen minutes while you try to understand what exactly is or is not paid for just in case something actually breaks. BEWARE-most contracts DO NOT COVER parts that wear out from NORMAL use. Are they really giving anything away for free? Smart people should know better. I hope you are one of them.
Shopping for a new or different vehicle?
A hybrid vehicle may be for you as long as you know what to expect. Most are quiet, peppy and fun to drive. Some have longer than average warranties to minimize buyer resistance to the complex technology involved. Most hybrid passenger cars will average between 35 and 45 MPG day in and day out, which is probably 20-40% better than any other average passenger car.
There are many benefits to driving a hybrid vehicle besides just saving money on gas. Hybrid vehicles tend to be much quieter both inside and out, making for a less obtrusive, more pleasant environment for all of us. The reduction in pollutants will keep our air cleaner longer, and the reduced fuel usage will extend the worlds limited oil reserves. Many components on hybrid vehicles also tend to last longer because there are multiple power sources- at least a gasoline engine and an electric motor/generator assembly. The gasoline engine, transmission and brakes should all last longer if properly maintained. The electric motor/generator assemblies usually require little or no maintenance and should last the life of the vehicle.
The other side of the hybrid picture is a little more sobering and should make prospective buyers do some thinking before rushing out to buy one. The vehicles are more complicated and in some ways much more dangerous than a typical car. Getting honest, competent service on a hybrid vehicle can be a real challenge, and if you have serious problems on the road it can lead to a long, frustrating wait.
Owners that like to "tinker" on their vehicles, or have friends that usually work on their cars should not attempt to fix any serious problem that may come up. Large ORANGE colored wires are HIGH VOLTAGE and if contacted they can KILL YOU. Major services should not be performed by general mechanics unless they have proven experience with hybrids. I would not recommend having any general quick lube/oil change/tire/muffler or brake shop touch your hybrid if you want your vehicle to last as long as possible. I have personally seen too much unnecessary damage due to ignorance or greed, but this is always a risk with convenient and discount service facilities. There are good mechanics all around the world, but just because someone has a patch on their shirt or decal in the shop window is no guarantee that they are competent or honest.
Hybrid vehicles inherently have lots of electronic components and are usually very reliable, but they get expensive quickly when things go wrong. Sooner or later the hybrid battery (likely in the 100-150,000 mile range)will need to be replaced at a current cost on the Prius of $3300-3500. If the inverter goes bad (mine did) that could cost over $4000 to replace. The air conditioning is unique and if serviced incorrectly can cost you $3000-5000 to correct. The wireless keys if lost can cost $300-600 EACH to replace. Extended warranties may help if you need them, but normally they don't cover what breaks and just waste your hard earned money. It takes a lot of gas to make up for just one major repair, so don't buy a hybrid just for the gas savings or you may end up kicking yourself later.
During the past 8 years, I have driven my own Prius vehicles over 100,000 miles with only a few serious problems that have cropped up, fortunately before the factory warranty ran out. I service about 20 customer hybrids each week and most customers love their vehicles as well until they are faced with an expensive repair. For customers that want to keep their hybrids more than the 100,000 miles, my current recommendation is to start budgeting for at least one $3500 repair by the 150K mark and enjoy the quiet, clean burning, gas savings car in the meantime.
Things to keep your vehicle happier
A clean and shiny car can be a pleasure to drive. My own vehicles seem to run better and smoother when I know they are in good shape inside and out. Keeping your vehicle well maintained is not just about changing the oil and getting regular service. If you want your vehicle to last as long as possible and perform well while you own it, there are many things you can do yourself that cost very little and will save you lots. Just like your body or your home, the interior and exterior of your vehicle need some attention from time to time. A little elbow grease once in a while will make your vehicle nicer to drive and will help maintain the resale value for the future.
Keeping the vehicle washed and waxed occasionally will reduce rust and corrosion problems, protect the paint from fading as well as improve the looks. Did you know many quality car waxes have UV blocking additives to protect paint against sun damage? Hand washing and waxing is still one of the best ways to protect and beautify your car, but it can take the better part of a day to do it yourself. Washing the windows inside and out will make your car safer to drive, day or night. The interior should be kept clean of food, papers, or extra junk, as all of these will provide breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and are an invitation to rodents and bugs. Dust, dirt, and grime eventually get so embedded into interior paneling, carpets and seat fabric that they will permanently stain some car materials. Cleaning at least once or twice a year can make a huge difference in the overall looks of your vehicle.
Under the hood of the engine compartment, look for any wet or especially oily and dirty areas that indicate a fluid leak that could lead to other problems in the near future. Make notes or show any areas of concern to your regular mechanic so that they can be repaired before more expensive repairs crop up. The engine bay should also be cleaned from time to time, removing excess dirt, mud, and oil. Exposed hoses, belts and wiring all will last longer if kept cleaner and oil free. Most belts and rubber hoses will fail quickly if soaked with oil due to a leaking gasket or seal.
Take a look around while the hood is up to see if there are any small branches, twigs or chewed up insulation materials in little piles. Small droppings or stains indicate you may have rodent problems. Carefully washing out the engine area thoroughly should be done as soon as possible to discourage further rodent visits. Sooner or later they will get hungry or bored, and start chewing on wiring and hoses. Believe me, this can get very expensive as well as dangerous. Some rodents do enough damage to cause fires inside the engine bay. This has been a particularly bad year for rodents because of our high rain fall this season, so I would suggest that everyone keep their eyes open for rodent debris in or around the vehicle.
The other option for everyone is to just pay for a professional auto detailing job. This is the easiest, but not the least expensive way to keep your car looking great without breaking a sweat. There are a number of places around Santa Fe that would just love to make your car shine again.
Growing a Business in Santa Fe
The locally owned business TOY AUTO MAN operated on 2nd St. for almost 20 years before it outgrew its humble garage. Many customers became loyal Toyota fans due to the high quality service and personal attention they received by the prior owners. When Stephen and Claudia Inoue bought out the business in July of 2000, they had a dream of bringing the business up to a whole new level of service to customers, both from a quality and comfort standpoint. New modern repair and diagnostic equipment was purchased as soon as money allowed and training for all employees was made available whenever possible. The business thrived and it soon became apparent that a larger work space and more parking for clients was needed.
The cost and availability of properly zoned land for automotive repair dictated that we chose property on the south side of Santa Fe. When we decided to move our business to the Airport Road/Tierra Contenta neighborhood area, it was with slight trepidation and a cautious optimism. We were worried because it moved us out of a familiar area to our current customers, but we were also encouraged to move to the busier side of town with a high population density and good location. Even though the move was only 5 miles away, many people acted like we were moving to the other side of the world.
The Santa Fe architectural partners at Turner, Lechner and Romero, who designed the beautiful new facility, had quite a challenge laid before them. Stephen and Claudia wanted the new building to be bright, functional, attractive and comfortable for customers and the whole staff, but had a very limited budget to work with. Stephen bumped into local contractor John Rehders and his wife Sharon at the golf course one day, and before long Stephen knew he had found the right man for his construction job. John is honest, friendly, and the most organized and up-front contractor I have ever worked with. He and his crew built our building faster than I expected, on time, on schedule for the banks, and under anticipated budget! We couldn't have asked for a better contractor.
We moved into our new building on Airport Road 4 years ago now, and we are thankful every day for the move. Having a brighter, cleaner workspace makes such a difference during our 12 plus hour long work days. Being located on the south side of Santa Fe has allowed the majority of the population to access our services without having to drive on Cerrillos Road. The business growth has been partially due to our neighbors in the Tierra Contenta area. Each month new customers come in for the first time and are pleasantly surprised at how nice and clean our facility is. Having an organized business also allows us to operate very efficiently, allowing us to repair most scheduled services on the same day of their appointment. The only draw-back to all this success is a sometimes two to three week wait for an appointment during the busy season in summer. What a nice problem to have during this slow time for many businesses.
The beautiful landscaping (Claudia's passion) and design of the building have brought a nice commercial improvement to Airport Road. As more businesses move to this area, we hope they will also make it more attractive while providing quality jobs that will help Santa Fe grow in a positive way. TOY AUTO MAN is truly a Santa Fe grown business, built with the help of other Santa Fe businesses, hiring local residents at good wages, providing health care benefits, and benefiting all the local residents that come to us for service by providing top quality services at fair prices. Isn't this what every local business should be all about?
Do Oil Change "Specials" Really Save You Money?
Oil change "specials" are available just about everywhere you look, but is the business really trying to save YOU money by giving you something for less than the actual cost? Not very likely. I have seen oil change ads ranging from $12-40 around Santa Fe in the last year, and wondered what was actually being offered for that price, since I know what needs to be done during a oil change. Good quality oil, a good oil filter and drain gasket, business overhead expenses and a mechanic to do the work all adds up financially. If the business takes the time to look at you brakes, lights, tires, engine air filter, belts, under hood fluids and wipers, a half hour or more is usually spent performing this service for you. Like most things our parents tried to teach us, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
A customer of ours recently went to a local tire store for a quick, cheap oil change, and was told that she was due for a variety of services that added up to almost one thousand dollars! All of a sudden, her $19.99 oil change was not such a bargain. Fortunately she thought something did not sound quite right and she called to get my opinion. After discussing the recommended services and parts, the only thing she really did need that day was an in-cabin air filter, but that was priced at double the normal customer cost! Some special deal. The sad part of this whole story is that this goes on every day, all over the country, and happens to both men and women. The businesses use scare tactics or use peoples lack of knowledge to sell parts and services that may not be actually needed. I have seen this happen over and over during my lifetime to family, friends and customers, and it bothers me every time.
The discounted or extra-cheap oil change is used by every business to draw customers in so that they can "Up-Sell" other (profitable) services and products. If they are honest and actually using quality parts, great- but all too often customers are pushed into making quick decisions about repairs that may or may not (usually the case) be needed at that time. Many places want to sell you the lowest quality products with the largest profit margin to pay for the advertisements and people standing around. Pay attention and think about what you are being told, things like wipers and air filters should normally be changed about once a year, but coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluids last many years under normal conditions. A good oil change place should be keeping an eye on your whole vehicle, keeping you informed of upcoming repairs so you don’t have to make on the spot decisions about expensive repairs. With some warning, you can make better decisions or get a second opinion before spending your hard earned money. I know that they are convenient and that it is nice not to need an appointment, but a little planning on your part will likely save you thousands of dollars over your driving lifetime if you go to a shop that is looking out for you and your vehicle.
Am I Thrifty or Just Smart?
There is nothing quite like driving a brand new car. You get in and everything works the way it was designed to, no squeaks or rattles driving down the road, and you seem to cruise along on a cloud. When parked, people look at it and see a sparkling shine with no dings, dents or scratches. New cars can be great to drive, fun to show to friends and family, and having a warranty can ease fears of mechanical repairs and the expenses involved. Life is wonderful until that first payment comes due, and then those monthly payments continue for a long, long time. Parking spaces also seem to shrink when you are looking for a safe place for your new ride, and that first scratch or dent seems to happen all too soon. Even with low interest rates, the average monthly payment for a 25K car can be $400 a month or more, for 5 years. When you add on extra insurance for a newer vehicle and regular maintenance costs, your out of pocket expenses can exceed $500 a month.
There are lots of great deals on new cars and trucks right now, but I have a hard time justifying taking on a $400/month car payment to save $50 a month on gas. Even when I have to spend money on repairs that come up, I am way ahead financially. I usually have to spend an average of $700-$800 per vehicle each year for service, maintenance and repairs (not counting gas or insurance) but this is far less than 2 car payments, and some years very little needs to be done to my vehicles. As long as I am mentally prepared for the expenses, it doesn’t hurt when it comes time for tires or other large repairs. However, if I was making a $400 car payment, spending another $600-1,000 for a set of tires or a major repair could really hurt financially. For people to manage a home mortgage, new car payment(s), kid(s) and all the other daily expenses these days this is really a challenge. For me, this is a no-brainer. I think of myself as thrifty, and for me, a good used vehicle is the only sensible way to go.
My last new car was the 2004 Prius, which is a fantastic vehicle and pretty much paid for itself in gas savings over my previous vehicle (a V-8 Tundra) but I was ready for a change. I generally drive my vehicles until I get bored with them, sell them to friends or customers, and move on to something else. I wanted to buy a new plug-in Prius, but because it is not available yet, I am driving a 2001 Highlander in the meantime. It was inexpensive, runs very well, and is paid for.
Right now, it is very hard for me to justify replacing any of our vehicles. Our 3 Toyotas have over 630,000 combined miles on their odometers, all with the original engines, and we have no need to replace any of them. They all receive regular service, get oil changes every 3-4,000 miles and are totally road worthy. They are all vehicles that we can get in and take on road trips pretty much wherever we want without worries about car problems. This is the comfort level we strive to giveall of our customers about their vehicles. We hope you have safe, happy holidays.
Safety Concerns in Modern Cars
This is a disturbing time to be driving a late model Toyota or Lexus vehicle. Every day we are hearing news reports of vehicles accelerating when they shouldn’t, sometimes resulting in deadly accidents. Corporate Toyota thinks they have found the problems and now have the solution. It will be good for everyone at Toyota if a simple fix will actually cure this problem, but it will remain a concern for some time to come. Lots of people are wondering if it is safe to get in their vehicle to go to work or even take their children to school.
The recent recalls for Toyota products should be a wake-up call for everyone. No matter what you drive, you need to pay attention to your vehicle and be alert when driving. Almost all vehicles manufactured these days have multiple computers controlling various functions. Some cars have over 20 separate computers! Engine operation, steering function, antilock brakes, climate control, tire monitors, emission functions, and even the gas cap door on some models is computer controlled. If a computer gets an incorrect signal to turn something on or off when it shouldn’t, you could be in trouble. I am glad to say that here at Toy Auto Man, we very rarely have any computer failures on vehicles, which is a minor miracle to me. Our cars run day in, day out, through the rivers of water running down Cerrillos Road, through freezing snow at the ski basin, and in the mid summer heat without a hick-up most of the time. But they are mechanical devices, and some times things break or don’t work the way they were supposed to. How you handle a mechanical or electronic failure while driving could have a big impact on the rest of your life.
If your vehicle suddenly started to accelerate by itself, what should you do? The safest thing would be to put your vehicle into neutral and then pull over to the side of the road safely. Turn on emergency flashers, and if the engine continues to race, turn off the ignition. While you are still moving, leave the key in the ignition so you can still turn the steering wheel. Once the ignition key is taken out of the switch, the steering wheel will lock. Call for a tow truck and do not drive the vehicle until the problem is resolved.
No matter what type of vehicle you drive, there will come a day when a critical part may fail, a tire will go flat, a child may start screaming or distract you at a bad time, or another driver may be headed towards you that can’t be avoided. How are you going to react? Are you going to panic and freeze up? Scream? Close your eyes and wait for it to be over? Twist the steering wheel to one side and hope for the best? Hit the gas or brakes as hard as you can? Or will you quickly react and take control of the situation, doing whatever is necessary to minimize any injuries? A little planning and thought about what could potentially happen while driving and what we should do before an accident or bad situation occurs can make a huge difference. Most professional drivers are constantly surveying the surrounding vehicles and road conditions, thinking what-if scenarios and how they are going to react to them. What you do may be the difference between life and death and could turn your whole world upside down in an instant. Think ahead, have a plan, and drive with the thought, "What If?"
It is Not Easy to Run a Successful Business
It is amazing how many people think that most business owners are getting rich just because they see customers in a business. Over the years, I have heard both direct and indirect comments about how we "must be getting rich" because they always see cars in our parking lot. Sometimes people are mad at us because we are "only" open 4 days a week, not on weekends, and not even on Christmas, the NERVE!
We usually work over 48 hours each and every week at the shop to keep things working smoothly, plus more time at home on the computer. No one sees the daily preparation, cleaning, organization and effort that goes into our work week. If we were getting rich, do people really think we would be working so hard? The investment of time and money to properly service vehicles in our state of the art automotive facility is considerable. It is imperative that we stay current with all the diagnostic equipment and training necessary to keep abreast with the constant technological changes that occur. There is always new equipment to buy or computers that need to be updated. Everything from our mature staff of professional mechanics to our parts inventory and landscaping must be paid for. Each mechanic is paid well and receives various benefits, but they also work hard every week. It is not easy to run a business, but it is very satisfying when things work smoothly. I have been a mechanic for almost 40 years now and I enjoy learning new things daily. It still gives me great pleasure when I find a new way to save my customers money by solving a problem or repairing an expensive part that most mechanics would just throw away and replace, usually at great expense to the customer.
During our spare time while the business is closed, I often spend my evenings and weekends thinking about how to make things work smoother for everyone. My wife keeps our web site current and informative, and somehow finds time to make the shop comfortable and attractive for our customers. She has made our waiting areas nicer than most medical offices. For us, as the owners, there are never a lack of things to do and there is always LOTS to think about.
I wish I had some easy answers on how to work shorter hours and get everything done, lower stress levels during the day, generate enough income to pay bills, buy equipment and save for the future, keep my prices low enough to keep repairs fair and affordable for my clients, pay less for health/life/liability/unemployment/theft/fire/workman’s comp. and every other insurance, lower our taxes and utilities, maintain our building and equipment, get all of the needed work done each day, have more free time, and not wake up in the middle of the night wondering how to solve all these problems.
Our business is not alone in its’ struggles, work ethics or goals. Ask just about any successful business owner, and they will share similar stories about clients and their perceptions. Unless a person has actually run their own business, they have no idea what is required of the owners time-wise or the financial investment to keep it successful and operational while getting established or pulling it through slow periods. Yes, we are very thankful that we have been successful to date, but please understand, it does not come easily. The reason we have steady business is because we work hard, do what we say, and price services that are fair to customers, the employees, and the business.
Shopping around for a good deal may cost you
Every day people call and want to know "How much does it cost for a certain job", not realizing that many businesses may include or eliminate certain services to quote a low price. This happens every day, at dealerships and private repair facilities all across the United States. Look closely at any special service advertisement, flyer, TV ad or even Internet ad, and you will usually find the words "extra charges may apply". The problem with advertised specials is there is almost always a catch. Maybe what you paid for may not be what you actually needed, or wanted, or got. A special low price for one service can be a waste of your money if it leaves other important work undone in the same area.
Timing belt replacement is a common "On Sale" service that many businesses often perform poorly or incompletely. If a special is for timing belt replacement only and no other parts are properly inspected or replaced, you may be wasting your money. A leaking oil seal or water pump mounted behind the timing belt cover may require duplicate disassembly to access, costing you the labor money all over again, and possibly another timing belt. Time pressures, low quality parts, improper technician training and/or lack of knowledge may cause you the customer to return in the near future. Would this make you happy with a "Special Price"? A business that is looking out for your long term happiness and trying to extend your vehicles reliability will likely quote a higher initial price, but it may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the future.
A transmission service at one facility may include draining a small portion of your fluid and then refilling it with re-cycled fluid, while another business may use premium quality chemicals to clean out the transmission, flush the entire system with factory recommended fresh fluid and then install additives to finish the job. Do you think they are quoted or priced the same? Very unlikely. Do you think most customers know the difference? Probably not. Do you think one will last longer and perform better? I would bet on it!
Suspension and brake work are two other areas where people often get misled, misquoted or just end up missing out on a good job in the quest of saving some money. There is a huge difference in the quality of parts available, and if a business is more concerned with profits over long term customer satisfaction-you end up being the loser when the deal is completed. You may not know the difference right away, but sooner or later a low quality part will end up causing more expensive problems. Good brake components will keep you and your family safer and more comfortable with smooth, quiet stopping power, while poor quality parts may not stop you fast enough to avoid accidents, may be noisy, and may also cause damage to other parts of your vehicle. Suspension components affect the safety, handling and stability of your vehicle, as well as making sure your tires wear properly and last as long as they should. Put the best suspension parts you can afford for maximum safety and secure handling and you will have no regrets.
People often shop for the lowest price, hoping that they are getting more for their money. Unfortunately, most people end up with poor quality parts put on by someone in a hurry because they are trying to get as many jobs completed so that they will make more money at the end of the week. Smarter shoppers will seek out businesses that emphasize quality over cost, and satisfied customers over profits. A good business should be able to make a fair profit, but must first make sure they are doing right by their customers by offering quality parts, competent service, and accurate diagnosis.
Commentary: Making the world better, one mechanic's thoughts
By Stephen Inoue | For The New Mexican
The United States is going through some of the hardest financial times since the Great Depression. Just about everybody has been affected by the current economic situations in the housing, banking and financial markets and our involvement in multiple military conflicts around the world.
But we have a new leader with great enthusiasm and the hope to improve our country. I am very hopeful that our next president can help initiate the changes we need to start a major turnaround in our country, but he cannot do this alone.
Each and every one of us can and must make a difference in the lives around us and for those we come in contact with. We all have the ability to spend a little wiser, drive a little less to cut down on our use of gas and limit our carbon footprint and be a little more thoughtful toward others.
As a mechanic and business owner, I am doing my part at improving this area by working extra hard to treat my customers fairly, supporting community services and helping others when possible. My wife and I treat our employees like we would want to be treated, paying well and providing much-needed benefits. I urge other local business owners and managers to do the same.
If you are a business owner, make the extra effort to ensure you are doing what you can to help your employees as well as your own family. When you are sure your customers and clients are spending their money wisely and getting solid value, you are providing a valuable service. People who can trust you to look out for their best interests will likely come back to you in the future.
Every employee can make a difference by making sure they are doing the best job they can, working hard to make sure they are productive and doing a job they can be proud of. No matter what type of work you do, if you have done it the best you can, you can feel good inside knowing you have given it your all.
In our world and community, we depend on each and every type of worker, no matter what the job is. From teachers to clerks, painters to plumbers, janitors to engineers, we are all important in the overall picture of life. If we make the best of who and what we are, everyone will benefit.
On the other hand, people who just put in their time at work without making an effort have nothing to show for it at the end of the day but a paycheck. If we all pitch in a little bit to help others in need, we can indeed make a huge difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. Politicians are important to run our government and hopefully guide us in the proper direction, but we as individuals can each have a direct, positive impact if we choose to.
Car Care January 2012
Automotive Good News/Bad News
This month I would like to share some information about new cars in a good news/bad news format that everyone should be aware of. Many of the vehicles being built today are great. New cars are cleaner running, safer, require less maintenance, are more economical and more powerful than ever before.
Good News: Many vehicles are built to last well over 200,000 miles if properly serviced. Hybrid vehicles have also become quite popular during the last 10 years and have proven extremely reliable for most people. Bad News: Many new cars will break very expensive parts or get seriously damaged more easily if service is neglected or delayed too long. Engines spin faster and run at hotter temperatures, so proper servicing is more important than ever.
Good News: Automatic transmissions are better than ever on newer cars. Instead of two or three gears, they often have six to eight gears to make them shift smoother and provide better fuel mileage and acceleration. Bad News: They still break if you don't service them! With more gears and electronics controlling the shifts, there are also more things to go wrong. Many new transmissions hold less fluid and run at higher speeds and hotter temperatures than old models. When the fluid gets worn out, transmission failure will follow and you will have one big repair bill.
Good News: Computers in your car are helping make your vehicle safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable to drive. We have headlights that adjust while turning, laser assisted cruise control and wipers that turn themselves on when it starts to rain. You can talk on your phone hands free, watch movies, have individual heat controls, and have heated seats.
Bad News: All these electronics can break. Most new cars have anywhere from 5-20 computers running everything from the engine and transmission to the wipers and the gas cap door opener. Some Mercedes models have 200 different computers that need to talk to each other. Make sure the people servicing your vehicle have the correct parts and equipment to service it properly.
Good News: There are all sorts of businesses now offering a variety of automotive services for all cars. From discount food chains to muffler and tire stores, more businesses are offering a wide variety of automotive services for one stop shopping. Bad News: To give you discounted prices, these businesses often use cheaper (sometimes untrained labor), lower cost (sometimes used or recycled fluids) and the cheapest poor quality parts they can find. Do you really want someone that can barely change a tire or muffler servicing your brakes or working on your hybrid system? I think this is a very bad idea.
Good News: There is more automotive service training and knowledge available for people that want to work on cars than ever before. Internet training is making it possible to earn some certifications without even working on a vehicle. Bad News: Just because someone has a wall full of certificates or a patch on their shirt doesn't guarantee that you will be treated fairly or honestly. Becoming a professional mechanic takes many years of training and hands on experience. Integrity (like good manners or taste) cannot be bought.
Good news: There are still some very good businesses and mechanics around that will do their best to keep you safely on the road for years to come. They can be counted on each and every time you see them to be honest, fair and very competent with your brand vehicle. Search out a great mechanic or shop and you will have a longer lasting, safer car for years to come. You will save money with high quality, honest service if they listen to your individual needs.
TOY AUTO MAN
Where we treat YOU and YOUR vehicle like family
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We strive to make you and your vehicle smile at every service