Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Your Mechanic

car mechanic

Many people fear mechanics because they worry that will get ripped off easily. Some mechanics try to get away with charging you too much (or even doing unnecessary repairs), though this is not as common as it used to be. As long as you are careful, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Here are some tips to ensure that you don’t get ripped off by your mechanic.

Do your research before you visit your mechanic.

There are many places that offer auto repair estimators. After you enter the information about your vehicle, it should give you an estimate of what your bill should be after the repairs are made. This gives you something to compare to when the mechanic gives you an estimate.  

Ask the mechanic to show you what is wrong with your car.

This can really help you see what is wrong with the car. You will be able to see (with your own eyes), exactly what is broken or not working. Many people like to be able to visualize and understand exactly what is wrong with the vehicle.

Learn as much as you can.

By knowing enough about cars (and doing your research), you can find out which mechanics you can trust and which ones you can’t. You might even be able to walk into the shop with some ideas about what the problem is so you don’t get talked into unnecessary repairs. This could be as simple as reading your owner’s manual before you walk into the shop.

Find another mechanic.

If at any point you are uncomfortable with your mechanic, leave and find someone else.

If you just don’t trust your mechanic, it may be time to look around for another mechanic. You may also decide to find someone else if you are worried about the number of repairs that the mechanic is recommending.

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

If you feel like the mechanic is telling you that multiple things are wrong or you feel like the estimate is too high, don’t be afraid to go somewhere else. A second opinion may help you see that the first mechanic was going to charge you too much. It can also show you that you should trust the first one!

Find a good mechanic that you can trust.

If you trust your mechanic, you are not going to have to worry about getting ripped off. You will already know that he is doing the best that he can, for the best price. You don’t have to wonder if he is doing something unnecessary just to make more money.

The best way to avoid getting ripped off is finding someone that you can trust. If you are uncomfortable with the mechanic (or the number of repairs), feel free to leave. If you are not sure, you can always get a second opinion.

As you look for a mechanic that you can trust, you should do your research so you seem more knowledgeable to the mechanic. Visit an estimator so you can have an idea of what your repairs should cost. Many people also like to see what is broken before they approve of the repairs. If you are uncomfortable at any time, don’t hesitate to go somewhere else.

Staying Safe When Driving in Icy Conditions

icy road

While the warm summer months provide ideal driving conditions, if you live in an area where you can expect ice and snow in the winter, this can change drastically. It’s crucial to stay safe on the roads, both for yourself and for other road users, and snow and ice can make this a challenge. So, how do you prepare to drive in icy conditions?

Plan Your Route Carefully

Before you set off, make sure you know the route you intend to take along with three or four alternatives in case of road closures. When picking your path, try to stick to the main highways. These roads will be well maintained and are much more likely to be gritted to prevent ice. If you do find yourself on smaller roads, take extra care as you drive, and try to get back on the main highway if you can.

Carry a Map or GPS

Most people rely on satellite navigation to guide them on their route. However, when driving in icy conditions, it is useful to have a paper map of the area with you in the car. The last thing you want is to get stuck in traffic or break down somewhere, and for the battery to die on your phone. A paper map means that no matter what happens, you will always be able to navigate your way to where you want to be.

Pack the Essentials

It is worth keeping a few essentials like food and water, a first aid kit, and some warm clothes in your car, just in case you end up stuck. It’s also worth having a few tools and a high viz jacket in case you break down. Even if you can’t use them yourself, a helpful passer-by may be able to give you a hand if you have all the equipment.

Pull Off In a High Gear

As well as preparing for your journey, you should also make changes to the way you drive. If you are driving a manual transmission, you should avoid using the lowest gears to prevent skidding on the ice. Try to pull off in 3rd gear, and if you are struggling shift back down to 2nd. Some automatic cars also have a manual setting, and some even have a winter mode that uses higher gears and a smoother transition.

Brake Gently

It won’t come as a surprise that your car tires do not grip well on snow and ice. Your chances of skidding are much higher, so always gently apply the brakes, and if you feel the car skid, release and try again. Because you are braking softly, you have to keep a long way behind the car in front, so always err on the safe side. If you feel like you may not be able to stop in time, drop back a little further.

Expect the Unexpected

Even if you prepare correctly, accidents can still happen. Bear in mind, that there will be plenty of other road users who are not taking the correct precautions, so you need to anticipate as much as you can. Look out for anything you think is dangerous, and try to leave as much distance between you and other vehicles as you can.

Take Your Time

Lastly, remain patient. No matter how far the drive, it is not worth the risk of rushing and getting involved in an accident. Take your time, and stop for coffee if you can to keep yourself alert. Safety is paramount, so don’t worry about how long your journey will take, just that you will get there safely.

Driving in icy conditions can be dangerous, so if you can avoid making a trip, then you probably should. However, taking the car is sometimes unavoidable, so take every precaution you can to stay safe. Prepare well, and pay extra attention to the roads, and you should have no need to worry.

What Car Enthusiasts Can Do During COVID-19

car enthusiasts

As a car enthusiast, you know how power drives you – that high of rolling with your beast, loud, proud, unrestrained. But by now, you’ve probably realized it only takes one pandemic to keep you grounded, in a lockdown.

While there’s nothing you can do to stop the virus, there are many ways to keep your wheels greased during quarantine:

Car Maintenance

You know the drill – wash the car, change the oil, replace burned out bulbs, clean the interior, and then give the babe some exercise. A 20-minute drive twice a month should be enough to keep those parts lubricated and moving, and those batteries charged. You need not even go far (and you probably shouldn’t).

Shopping for Upgrades

You don’t have to channel The Fast and the Furious to know what upgrades you need, or want. Just go tire shopping if you must, get new spark plugs, a data monitoring system or bushing – you obviously call the shots. Just don’t forget to disinfect the goods when they arrive. There’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through packages, but it’s still smart to err on the safe side.

Tidying Your Garage

What to do during COVID-19? Clean your garage! It’s probably been gnawing at you for a while anyway. Throw away anything unneeded, or donate it to charity. For things you need but not so often (for example, holiday decor), put them on the higher shelves. Hang up those bikes and kayaks, and always keep the kids in mind when storing things like paint and chemical cleaners.

Playing Car Video Games

Talking about road itch, there’s probably no better way to scratch it than to pretend you’re actually there. Try iRacing, certifiably one of the best NASCAR racing simulation games around. WRC tests your skills on the earth’s most savage terrains. while Burnout Paradise Remastered is a flat out car racing game with stupefying 4K graphics. More than anything, it’s a time to explore.

Catching Up on Automotive Content

Home in a lockdown shouldn’t mean man (or woman) in a cave. There are tons of automotive content to keep you in the course, from Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube to The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video. Podcasts are also worth a look up. You can start with the All Torque Car Podcast, Everyday Driver Car Debate, or Car Talk, which is loaded with all kinds of automotive funnies.

Road Trip

It’s clearly not a time to take road trips, but probably the best for mapping a good one. Picking a destination is always a good start. Ever heard of apps for road trippers? They help you calculate things like costs, distance, and time, as well as point you to roadside essentials like diners, gas stations, etc. In any case, keep your plans a little loose. That’s how the best road trips are made.

Make Model Cars

Alas, you have all the time to make a model car. You don’t even need much, except a few tools, like side cutters, a razor saw, some tweezers, different glues and paintbrushes, a toothbrush, and then some. On the list of potential activities for social distancing, this must be one of the best for car lovers like you.

It may take a while for normal to return, but there’s no reason to stop the car life while you wait. You can still make it spark by getting some brand new auto bling, racing on a make-believe NASCAR racetrack, wheel shopping from a reputable tire store like RNR Tire Express Midwest, and more. If there’s anything you should learn from this lockdown, it’s that you’re always on the driver’s seat.

How to Ship a College Student’s Car

college student car

As a parent, there is no prouder moment than sending your child off to college for the first time. However, before they take those first steps into the real world there is a lot of planning a preparation to do. One of the first things you will need to address is how your student will get around their college town. Since public transportation isn’t a good option in most American towns or cities, your student will almost certainly need to have their car.

However, many students end up going to college hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their home town. As such, it would be very risky to have them drive their car all the way there. After all, they have most likely only been driving for a year or two at this point and do not have the experience to handle such a long road trip. Luckily, there is an easy way for them to use their car at college without needing to drive it there – auto shipping.

What is auto shipping?

In its simplest form, auto shipping is the process of transporting a vehicle from one place to another. In this case, it is the process of shipping your student’s vehicle from their home town to their college town. This is usually achieved by loading the car up on to a flatbed or transport trailer and driving it to its destination. Since the car is securely strapped to the trailer and the truck is driven by an experienced professional, you can rest assured that your student’s vehicle will arrive safe and sound at its destination.

How much does auto shipping cost?

There is, unfortunately, no one answer to this question – since the cost will vary from one case to the next. There are a number of important factors that determine how much your shipment will cost. These factors include the distance to be traveled, the size of the vehicle, and the popularity of the route. To get a more exact quote for your student’s vehicle, you can always contact your local auto shipping company.

How long does auto shipping take?

While the price of auto shipping is tough to provide any blanket answers for, timing is a little easier. The distance to be traveled is the main thing that will determine the time it takes to ship a vehicle. For example, if your student is moving just a few hundred miles away you can expect the process to take around 2-4 days. On the other hand, if their college town is 1,500 miles away you are probably looking at a wait time of around 10-14 days.

Moving to college is a huge step for both you and your student – one that is packed with things to worry and stress about. As such, you should take full advantage of every opportunity to rid yourselves of one of those worries. By entrusting the delivery of their vehicle to an experienced auto shipper, you will be able to do just that.

8 Ways to Protect Your Car During Winter

winter road conditions

A harsh winter can take a heavy toll on your car. From frozen mechanics to corrosion from road salt, the potential for expensive damage is high. And what’s worse, a poorly protected car becomes much more dangerous to drive, putting the safety of you and your passengers at risk.

Luckily, a little preparation can keep the impact of the colder months to a minimum. Here’s what to do.

1) Winter Tires

Your region may require you to fit snow tires over winter, or it may be a condition of your insurance. But even if you have no legal need for snow tires, it’s important to make sure your tires are fit for the season’s conditions.

Check that the tread depth is a little deeper than the law says and that the tires stay inflated to the correct pressure. In icy conditions, the last thing you want is unreliable handling because of badly performing tires.

2) Check Windshield Wiper Blades

It’s a lot harder for windshield wipers to handle frozen, gritty particles than it is rain or fine summer dust. If the blades are cracked or worn, the dirty ice will quickly build-up, reducing visibility and even damaging the glass. Before winter arrives, check your wiper blades for damage or wear and tear and replace them if necessary.

3) Cover Your Car

If you can keep your car in a garage every night, then that’s ideal. But whatever your usual storage conditions, it’s a sensible idea to buy a car cover to take with you wherever you drive. Covering your car when snow is forecast not only protects the bodywork but makes getting your vehicle ready to drive much quicker and easier.

4) Wash Frequently

You may think washing your car in snowy weather is a waste of time, but it’s important to do it frequently throughout winter. The road salt that sprays up as you drive can cause corrosion surprisingly quickly, so it needs washing off as often as possible. And don’t forget to power spray the harder-to-reach places such as inside the wheel arches and underneath the car itself.

5) Wax Your Car

As well as washing, you can give your car’s bodywork an extra level of protection by waxing it before winter arrives, and at least once before spring.

6) Change the Oil

It makes good sense to time your oil changes for just before winter so that your engine is fully protected during the hardest months. And when you replace the oil, choose a thinner formulation than you’d normally use. In severely cold conditions, regular oil thickens and become less effective at protecting your engine.

7) Check Fluids

Make sure your coolant fluids are topped up and have enough antifreeze added to them. If you’re caught in traffic because of severe weather, you need to be sure the engine won’t overheat. You also need to guard against the radiator bursting if your car is sitting idle in the cold for too long.

8) Test the Battery

Lastly, test how efficient your battery is as winter approaches. Its storage capacity decreases in the cold, and a battery that’s nearing the end of its life can fail unexpectedly if conditions take a sudden turn for the worse.

As winter approaches, a little preparation can go a long way in protecting your car. If some extra care and attention prevent expensive damage while also keeping you safe, it’ll be time and money well spent.

Car Shipping for Reassigned Military Members

military members assigned

Members of all branches of the military are required to relocate from one base to another on a regular basis. Often, these moves can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Of course, a big move such as this comes with a number of logistical challenges – particularly since these moves often occur with little advance notice. In particular, it can be tough to know how to get your vehicle to your new home.

Driving it is always an option, but this can sometimes take multiple days and means that you will not be able to bring as many of your personal items and furniture as you would if you drove a moving truck. As a result, many military members are turning to professional auto shipping companies to transport their vehicles. A good military car shipping company will have the experience to get your car where it needs to go, and they will ensure that the vehicle makes it there as quickly and safely as possible.

How does military auto shipping work?

Military auto shipping is the safer and easier way to get your vehicle from one city to another. In the vast majority of cases, the process will be as simple as you driving your car to the designated pick up location and then collecting it on the other side. However, if for any reason you are not able to drive your car to the pick up spot, most auto shipping companies will be able to pick your car up right from your driveway to make the process as seamless as possible for you.

Will your vehicle be safe during the shipping process?

Shipping your vehicle with a military auto shipper is probably the safest way of getting your vehicle from one place to another. When driving the vehicle yourself, you run the risk of another driver rear-ending you, driving over a nail in the road, or any number of other issues. When your vehicle is transported with a military car shipper, it will be placed securely on the back of a truck, away from any potential dangers. However, in the unlikely event that something does happen to your vehicle in transit, the vast majority of auto shippers will have a detailed insurance policy that will cover any damages.

How do you receive your car at its destination?

In order to make the process as simple as possible, most shippers endeavor to make receiving your vehicle as easy as dropping it off. The most popular way to receive the car is to go to the designated shipping station, quickly inspect the vehicle for any damage, sign off on the package, and drive home. The whole process generally takes less than 30 minutes. However, if you are pushed for time or can’t make it to the shipping station, most military car shippers will be able to deliver the vehicle right to your driveway.

For military service members who want to make the moving process as easy and straightforward as possible, it is very tough to beat the convenience of using a military car shipper. If you have a big move coming up soon, be sure to get a quote from an auto shipper before you go – you might just be surprised at how well the whole process works.

8 Reasons NOT to Buy that Used Car

Broken Down Car

Buying a used car is always slightly more risky than buying a brand-new model. There’s usually a less comprehensive warranty – if there’s any at all – and you can’t guarantee the maintenance history is as good as it should be.

But there are also bargains to be had if you shop carefully. Watch out for these eight red flags when buying, and you’ll stand much less chance of being lumbered with a lemon.

1) Lots of Owners in the History

If a car’s registration history has an unusual amount of owners, it could be a sign that the car is more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe it’s needed frequent repairs. Maybe it just doesn’t feel good to drive. But whatever the reason, a longer than normal ownership list should give you pause for thought.

2) Suspiciously Low Price

Although getting a great car at an amazing price is the ideal result, a price that’s much lower than you expect should make you suspicious. It’s possible that the owner may need a quick sale in good faith, or they genuinely might not have any idea of the car’s true value. However, it’s much more likely that they just want to be rid of the vehicle at any price.

3) Unusually Low Mileage

If the car’s mileage seems strangely low for its age, especially if the steering wheel and pedals show signs of wear and tear, then be highly cautious. Faking mileage is harder to do than it used to be, but it’s still a favorite tactic of unscrupulous sellers.

4) Strange Knocking Sounds

All cars drive less smoothly as they get older. But if you hear knocking or scraping sounds while driving, it’s unlikely to be a simple sign of graceful aging. And if the noises get worse when you brake, then walk away immediately. Major brake problems are dangerous as well as expensive to repair, and it’s simply not worth taking the risk in a used car.

5) Unexplained Drips Below

Always check the ground under the vehicle for any signs of leaks. A few unexplained drips may be nothing to worry about, but if they’re from the brake system or transmission they’ll be an expensive issue to fix.

6) Puffs of Exhaust Smoke

A small cloud of dark smoke coming from the exhaust when the engine starts is often a sign of an oil or antifreeze leak. These problems might not be deal breakers in themselves, but they’re definitely a warning sign that careful maintenance may not have been a priority for the owner.

7) Brand-New Paintwork

It’s not unusual for an older car have a few scuffs and scratches, even if it’s been carefully looked after. But if the paintwork is sparkling and factory-fresh, ask yourself what might be hiding underneath the shine. And if the paintwork looks newer in some places than others, then be doubly cautious.

8) Uneven Tire Wear

Lastly, it’s normal for car tires to wear down with use. But what shouldn’t be normal is an uneven pattern of wear, with some tires looking much older than others. At best, this means that tire rotation hasn’t been done regularly or correctly, maybe giving a clue about the overall level of maintenance. At worst, it’s a sign that the suspension or balance needs some serious attention. Either way, it’s not a positive point in a used vehicle.

There’s always a risk in buying a used car. But if you’re alert to these warning signs then you’ll be ahead of the game and can buy with greater confidence.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

prepare your car for winter

The winter season can be tough on your vehicle, and the time to prepare is already growing short. If you wait until the snow is falling and the roads are coated with ice, it could already be too late.

Now is the time to get your vehicle winter ready. With just a few simple upgrades, you can enhance your safety and get ready for the road ahead. Here are some timely winter upgrades to get your vehicle ready for the coldest time of the year.

Improve Your Blizzard Vision with New Wiper Blades

Even if you think your windshield wiper blades are fine, it never hurts to give them an upgrade. When the snow begins to fall and you find yourself in the middle of a blizzard, you will need clear vision more than ever.

Changing your wiper blades now is the best way to improve your visibility later, so take a few minutes to get a brand new pair. Look for wiper blades designed for winter driving – they are more rugged and better able to clear away ice and snow.

Stop the Slide with a New Set of Winter Tires

All season tires are fine most of the time, until they aren’t. When the roads are icy and the snow is falling, winter tires will give you extra traction in those difficult conditions.

That difference in winter traction could mean the difference between a close call and an accident, and you should seriously consider this winter upgrade. You can always put your all season tires back on once spring arrives.

Pack a Cold Weather Emergency Kit

You never know when a sudden snow squall will leave you stranded or an ice storm will leave the roads impassable. When you venture out in the winter, you need to be ready for anything, and that is where your emergency kit comes in.

Hopefully you already have a basic emergency kit in your trunk – if not, now is the time to get one. Your winter emergency kit should also contain basic supplies like a warm blanket, extra food and a set of road flares. Think about what you might need in a winter weather emergency, and then pack your kit accordingly.

Test and Top Off Your Antifreeze

When the temperature drops, your antifreeze will become more and more important. Now is the time to make sure this vital fluid is up to the job, so ask your mechanic to put it to the test.

If your antifreeze has lost its potency, a quick flush and fill can set things right, so you will be ready for the worst winter has to offer. If your antifreeze is still in good shape, ask your mechanic to top it off, and then check the level each time you gas up.

Winter driving season is almost here, and now is the time to get ready. Getting your vehicle winter ready now can keep you safe later, so you can face those challenging roads with confidence.

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