Maintaining “Old Faithful” Makes Dollars & “Sense”

Maintaining “Old Faithful” Makes Dollars & “Sense”

Your car, “Old Faithful,” is paid off or almost paid off.  You toy with the idea of buying a new one, but would really like to keep using that monthly money for other things. You like the look and smell of a new vehicle, we all do, but does anyone really like the payments that come with it?  In today’s economy, people are thinking twice before financing a new vehicle that they may be able to do without until times are more stable. Taking better care of your current car definitely makes a difference in the long run when it comes to your finances.

“We advise our clients that if they want a 10 percent increase on their investments every year, they need to cut down on their expenses. A new automobile is, for most people, their second biggest investment next to a home, so a great way to save money and increase financial assets is to hang onto their current vehicle rather than buy a new one every few years. Budgeting for and doing preventative maintenance on your car is one of the best ways to cut your costs and keep your car.”

~Terry Mulcahy, Vice President of Investments for R.W. Baird

The Car Care Council estimates that over $60 billion each year that should be going to vehicle maintenance is not being spent! This tells us that consumers are not protecting their investment, and more importantly that there are a lot of unsafe vehicles on our nation’s highways.  We’ve all driven behind a car spewing black smoke as it meanders down the expressway.  It isn’t pleasant for the rest of us sharing the road, and it’s bad for the environment — plus we know a costly repair is in their future if they don’t take care of the problem right away.

Quarterly preventative maintenance and the occasional repair costs so little when it’s compared to monthly payments on a brand new car.  A maintained car saves you money on gasoline, too! It is more reliable and more valuable than when you decide to get a new car.  Not only does preventative maintenance benefit you financially, it’s a great way to have a “greener” car without the expensive car payment to go with it.  When your car is paid off, it is in what we call the “Cinderella Era,” which is when your car becomes an asset to you if you keep up with the routine maintenance repairs.

A Runzheimer International study shows that trading a vehicle every eight years instead of every four can save more than $2,481.75 a year after the payoff. That includes repairs and maintenance, license, registration, taxes and insurance. In this economy, that is good news!  If dollars and cents are as important to you right now as they are to most of us, take care of “Old Faithful” and “Old Faithful” will be there for you!

Please call us with any questions at 860-920-5560

The Importance of Using the Correct Motor Oil

The Importance of Using the Correct Motor Oil

Motor oil is often referred to as the lifeblood of our vehicles. It performs many important functions.

• It acts as a lubricant for the engine parts.
• It helps protect the emission system.
• It provides enhanced fuel economy.

If you’ve ever taken the time to peruse the array of oils available today at an auto supply store, it can be overwhelming, and if you choose the wrong oil, it can have consequences. It can even damage your car’s engine over time. If you are a person who changes their own oil, always check your owner’s manual before you proceed and make sure you have purchased the correct oil for your particular type of vehicle.

There are three types of motor oil:

• Conventional (75 – 80% of refined crude oil)
• Full Synthetic (Standard base plus additives)
• Synthetic Blend (Conventional and Synthetic)

Then there are additives, such as detergents to keep the high-temperature surfaces clean and antioxidants that prevent oxidation and keep the engine oil from thickening. Additives also capture dirt and other contaminants to prevent build up on engine parts. There are even special oils just for high-mileage vehicles that have a conditioning component for the seals to prevent leakage.

The American Petroleum Institute classifies motor oil by viscosity. Using the correct viscosity of oil is vitally important to get the most benefit for your engine type. Viscosity refers to the motor oil’s weight, and on the container, “W” stands for weight. If you live in a warmer climate, you will need different weight oil than those living in colder climates.

Motor oil is and has always been the life blood of your vehicle’s engine. Getting the correct oil is crucial to keep your vehicle’s engine running well for years to come. When we service your vehicle, you can rest assured that we always use the correct oil.

Please call us with any questions at 860-920-5560.

The Real Cost of Ownership

The Real Cost of Ownership

Taking a look at a 2013 study provides some eye-opening data that may make you think twice about the kind of car you own, your driving habits, and whether you should shop around for auto insurance or the lowest gas prices.

Different car types equal different costs

AAA calculated the average costs for six different car types based on the cost of ownership in the study. It found that the average cost of all sedans — the majority of cars on the road — is 60.8 cents per mile or $9,122 annually, based on 15,000 miles of driving. Small sedans cost the least — $6,967 annually. Four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles cost the most — $11,599 annually — largely due to the fuel costs of those cars. Perhaps surprisingly, large sedans cost almost as much — $11,248 — as four-wheel drive SUVs, while minivans, which often have about the same amount of passenger and cargo-carrying capability as many SUVs, averaged just $9,795.

Depreciation doesn’t compensate

In the 2013 study, depreciation rates had slowed significantly, making cars worth more and partially offsetting the increases in ownership. According to the 2013 Your Driving Costs study, depreciation rose 0.78 percent to $3,571 annually on average. AAA attributed this to an increase of used cars available, which has softened resale values.

Next, for other cost of ownership info, we’ll focus on the sedan as our example.

Maintenance costs see big rise

In terms of car-maintenance costs, the AAA study found that there were significant increases in the cost of labor and parts over the past year. As a result, average maintenance costs are up by 11.26 percent on average for sedan owners, the largest percent year-over-year increase, to 4.97 cents per mile. Included in that figure are the labor and parts costs to maintain and repair the car for five years and 75,000 miles as well as purchasing an extended warranty. AAA noted that figure also has increased due to increases in extended warranty prices — the result of high losses by underwriters.

Car insurance costs more, too

While AAA notes that auto insurance rates vary widely due to numerous factors, car insurance is rising 2.76 percent to $1,029 annually for the average sedan owner over 2012. To arrive at its average, AAA used a hypothetical low-risk driver with a clean driving record and obtained quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states.

Fuel costs rise marginally

While gas prices have continued to rise, fuel costs are up only slightly, partially offset by improvements in car fuel economy. The average cost for regular unleaded gasoline is up 3.84 percent, but due to miles-per-gallon improvements, fuel costs have risen just 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. For its calculation, AAA uses the national average for regular, unleaded gas in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

What You “Auto” Know About Cheap Oil Change

What You “Auto” Know About Cheap Oil Change

In the world of “you get what you pay for,” the cheapest price for an oil change is not always the best value. I would like to break down a $19.95 oil change advertisement that I recently heard on the radio.

It said: “Our premium oil change and complete inspection for only $19.95.”

This seems like a very good price… until you listen to the disclaimer.

The disclaimer states that the price is good for conventional grade oil only, and most cars from 2000 and newer require an oil better than the conventional grade.

They also said that the “complete inspection” included a visual brake inspection only, which means the wheels would not be removed to do a thorough brake inspection, either.

Another disclaimer states, “Valid for up to 5 quarts of 10/30 or 5/30 conventional oil. Extra fees for synthetic or semi-synthetic blend oil. Cartridge oil filters extra. Valid for most cars.” Okay, let’s break that down. Many cars these days have cartridge filters by default, so that’s an extra charge tacked on right there. When they say “most cars,” what does that mean? What are most cars? Which cars are excluded from the deal?

The average cost for an oil change on a 2000-2010 car should be in $39.00 range. Most shops add a hazardous waste fee and tax on top of this cost.

Cost for the correct engine oil averages $4.00 per quart. Multiply that by 5 quarts on an average car and that equals $20.00 in oil, all before adding an oil filter or paying a person to do the service.

As you can see, a qualified technician is well aware of these costs and can give you a real breakdown of where the money’s going. If you hear a “good deal” on the radio or see an ad online or in your paper, it’s important to read the fine print and see which caveats apply. You won’t be happy if you go in for the “deal” and find a bunch of extra charges tacked onto your bill anyway. It’s best to find a trusted shop that you know does quality work, even if it seems a little more expensive up front. In the end, the cost will likely be the same.

The Heat is On!

The Heat is On!

Does this sound like your driving habits?

• Frequent stop-and-go
• Driving in heavy traffic
• Driving in dusty conditions
• Driving on steep terrain

This kind of driving takes its toll on transmissions. Yep… it’s trying to tell you something in transmission–speak, so listen up! Here are some audio clues that your transmission may be headed toward a breakdown.

• Clicks
• Buzzes
• Whistles
• Moans and Groans
• Squeals and Screeches
• Hums and Whines
• Clanks
• Grates and Rumbles
• Chatters and Clunks

Do you see a drip under your car? If it is reddish-brown in color, it may mean one of three things: leaking transmission, over-tightened pan gasket, or a leaking front seal. Do you smell something burning? It could possibly be your transmission fluid.

Those of us in the automotive service and repair business recommend you exchange the fluid every 30,000 miles or, on average, every two years. The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association states that 90% of all transmission failures are caused by overheating. Transmission fluid temperatures should be maintained at 175 degrees. When the temperature gets above 250 degrees F, the breakdown of the system begins, and here’s what happens.

1. Rubber seals begin to harden
2. Leaks start
3. Pressure is lost
4. The transmission begins to slip
5. Over time, the clutches burn out
6. Eventually the transmission burns out

If you suspect your transmission may be experiencing difficulty, call your regular car care provider. They can tell you with just an inspection what’s going on. It may just need a fluid change and all will be well. Many people panic and start price-shopping transmission replacements all over town, and then go to have it replaced at the cheapest place when they didn’t even need a new one to begin with!

We don’t want to see your transmission fail, so the best way to prevent bad news is to be good to it by keeping its fluid and filter fresh. It not only saves your transmission, it saves your wallet, too!

Please call us with any questions at 860-920-5560