We can all come up with a list of things that annoy us the most. Individual pet peeves aside, there's one thing that tops the list for most...spending money needlessly. There are three situations in the shop that make us cringe because they cost you, our beloved customer, money that could have been spent elsewhere. Let's take a look at how you can easily avoid them.
#1 THE PHANTOM CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
We get several phone calls a day from worried drivers asking about their check engine lights that are illuminated. There are a multitude of reasons these little boogers light up. Sadly, we can't diagnose the problem without hooking your car up to the diagnostic computer to pull the codes. It could be something serious that requires immediate attention, or it could be the dreaded "Phantom" check engine light.
What entices "The Phantom" to emerge from the bowels of your automobile most often? One of the simplest reasons is failing to make sure your fuel cap is on straight and tight when you refuel.
Your car runs through diagnostic checks every time you drive it. One of the checks it does is to make sure the evaporative system on the fuel tank is sealed. If your fuel cap isn't sealed properly, it'll pop that light on every time. So remember... straight and tight!
#2 MAKE SURE YOUR WIPERS ARE PARKED AND OFF
This is a problem that arises in the winter months. You know how you sometimes get in a hurry to get out of the car and maybe you shut off the engine before you've turned your wipers off? If the wipers stop mid-stroke and park themselves in the middle of your windshield it's easy to see what you've done. However, maybe you had them on intermittent and they were in the down position when you turned the car off. If conditions are wintery, snow and ice will likely be forming and freezing the wiper to the windshield.
As soon as the ignition engages, your wiper are also trying to engage. But if they're frozen to the windshield, they can't move! Now you're burning your wiper motor up, and the connection of the arm to the shaft twists loose and damages the arm. The cost of repair can be anywhere from $100 to $800. Ouch! Park those puppies before you turn off the car.
#3 TELL THEM TO PROPERLY TORQUE YOUR WHEELS
By "them" I mean anyone other than us. We know how to properly torque your wheels (and a whole lot of other things on your car). But if you risk taking your car to another repair shop that removes your wheels, you risk having your lug bolts/nuts not properly torqued with a torque wrench. An air gun is fast and fun, but it's not the right way to do it. It's perfectly fine to start the lugs with an air gun at a low speed, but they must be finished with a torque wrench ad set to the proper pounds per foot for your particular vehicle.
If the tech putting your wheels back on doesn't use a torque wrench he can easily over-tighten the lugs resulting in damage to the bolts, nuts and/or studs which overstresses the threads. The next tech to take your wheels off may then have to drill out the bolts if they are seized, sometimes rethread, and in a worse case scenario replace the hubs. The cost of repair is anywhere from $100 to $1,200. Yowza!
Wheels that are on too tightly can also warp your brake rotors by causing an uneven clamping on of the assembly. To bring it a little closer to home, what if you get a flat and you need to change it yourself? You can't break those bolts loose to change your tire if they've been over-tightened. Just tell whoever your dealing with to properly torque your wheels. If they seem puzzled, run like your pants are on fire! Or - better yet - visit us. We know how to treat your wheels right.
Can you believe how much time and money you can save yourself by just doing these three little things? Now that you're informed, you can thank us next time you're in the shop...which is hopefully (for your sake) a bit later than it could have been if you haven't been following our advice.