Tag Archives: engine

How much was your free estimate?

FREE Estimate vs Diagnostic Service

Estimate vs Diagnostic




When does a FREE automotive estimate become a billable diagnostic service?  Each auto shop could probably answer this question differently.

At Axleboy, free estimates typically take place at the service counter.  Whether your vehicle needs repair services or you’re trying to discover the next step in off-road modifications, you can call or walk in and one of our service writers will be more than glad to take the time to understand your vehicle needs.

A classic example of a free repair estimate would look something like this: A customer breaks an axle while wheeling over the weekend and would like to know what it will cost to replace both front and rear axles with Tera 60 axles.  Our service writer would then provide an estimate that includes the cost of all parts and book-labor time. At that point the customer could then make an educated decision to proceed or pursue an alternative option.

By contrast, when a customer comes into the shop with either a check engine light or a mystery noise, we can speculate only so much before the vehicle needs to come into the shop for further clarification or discovery.  It is at this point, that a free estimate typically becomes a billable diagnostic service.

Most shops bill diagnostic services based on an hourly rate, so we recommend that before you hand over the keys, first review with the mechanic or service writer their diagnostic plans, including estimated cost.

For a quick reference to the differences between a free estimate and diagnostic services, just check out the infographic to the right.

10 Quick Tips

10 Quick Tips For a Healthier Ride

Thanks to technological advancements and mobile connectivity the world seems to be moving at a faster pace than ever before.  According to a Gallup data collected from 2013 and 2014 nearly the average full-time employee works 47 hours a week.  Chalk up another 3.7 hours each day spent on social media, along with all the time spent running errands, eating, sleeping, hanging out with family/friends and countless other things going on day after day…and suddenly we’re surprised when our vehicle develops an odd noise, blows out a tire or the check-engine light comes on.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Don’t be too hard on yourself if it does.  Life is legitimately busy and full of distractions that constantly compete for our attention, so we often adopt the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to automobiles, neglecting routine maintenance can turn into an expensive game.  For example, on average, vehicles need 3-4 oil changes annually to maintain optimal engine performance.  At $30 per change, we could expect to spend $90-120 per year on this service alone.  If, on the other hand, we just drove the vehicle until the engine burned up (no oil changes), our $100-200 short-term savings would suddenly become either a $4,000-6,000 expense to swap out the engine or a $250 monthly payment toward a new ride. Ouch, right?

Our suggestion: If you own any type of vehicle, set aside a little time to become familiar with more than just the fuel tank.  Here are 10 things you can do to help extend the life of your vehicle.

Every Week

  1. Check the tire pressure.  Most pressure gauges are the size of a pen and fit conveniently in the glove box. This 5 minute task will help your tires wear evenly, extending their useful life and giving you better stopping distances.
  2. Check for pooling oil and other fluids on the driveway or in the garage where you park.  Really, this is a daily type of thing and doesn’t require you to do anything other than be observant.
  3. Pay attention to the trouble-lights. Vehicles today are set up with some pretty awesome technology that is programmed to notify you when something is not working properly.  When your check-engine light or any other trouble light comes on, get it checked out by a professional asap.
  4. Check/Top off windshield fluid. Driver visibility is a vital component to safe driving and while we can’t speak for every windshield, ours certainly seem to collect dust, pollen and bug guts that all need to be washed off.  Checking the windshield fluid should take less than 2 minutes once you know what you are looking for under the hood.
  5. Clean out the interior.  Did you know that clean vehicles can last 25-30% longer than messy ones?  Drivers who take time to de-clutter their vehicle are more likely to notice when things do not sound, smell or feel right…like having enhanced “spider senses.”

 

Every Month

  1. Check your oil once a month. Even though that sticker says you don’t have to get an oil change for another 8 weeks, go ahead and check your engine oil anyway. It only takes 4-5 minutes and can let you know if your engine is burning oil or how serious a leak may be. The dipstick handle to check this is typically yellow.
  2. Check transmission fluid levels.  Next time you go for a drive, try counting how many times your vehicle shifts gears. In order to work properly, those gears require a specific type of transmission fluid.  The transmission dipstick handle is typically red and not always convenient, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic to point you in the right direction.
  3. Check coolant levels.  Just like people, engines don’t run for very long when temperatures get too high.  Metal expands when it gets hot, and at about 245 degrees Fahrenheit different parts of an engine can begin to distort.  Coolant, also called anti-freeze helps to regulate temperatures inside the engine so you cave dependable performance.
  4. Visually inspect turn signals and other exterior lighting. External lighting doesn’t have an impact on engine performance, but it can increase your visibility to other drivers and they only take a minute or two to check.
  5. Give your vehicle a bath at least once a month depending on the season.  Dirt, debris and especially salt buildup on your vehicle create an ideal environment for corrosion to take root. And by corrosion, we mean rust, which could easily be prevented with a 10 minute trip to the local car wash.

We’ve noticed that if these simple things don’t get put on the ‘To do’ list, they just won’t happen.  So what we’re suggesting is, put down your smart phone or your tablet and take 20-30 minutes, once a week to become a little more familiar with your car, truck, Jeep, SUV, boat, motorcycle, train or whatever you drive.  Social media and the internet will still be there when you get back (maybe)…and this will give you something interesting to share with all your Facebook friends.  Brb gtg chk my oil, u shd chk urs 2.

Check Engine Warning

The Check Engine Light

The Light is On

You’re ready to leave work, so you go out to your car and turn the key…or push the button.  Typically all of your dash lights will turn on for a second and then turn off.  This time however, you notice an obnoxious yellow light continuing to illuminate your dash…the dreaded “check engine” light.   What the heck, right!?

If you’re like me, seeing that check engine light on can initially feel pretty aggravating.  Once the realization sets in that the light is still on, one of two very different personalities tend to emerge.  Personality ‘A’ will call or text family and friends, and vent their frustration all over social media.  Personality ‘B’ on the other hand will feel upset by the light but ultimately ignore it in the hopes that it will turn off on its own.

Just because the check engine light comes on, doesn’t mean that you have to immediately stop whatever you are doing but by the same token, ignoring the light altogether is a good way to make things worse.

 

At Axleboy, we want to help alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding the check engine light.  To do that, we’ll do our best to answer two questions:

 

What’s the deal with the check engine light?

Ever since the 80’s, onboard diagnostic (OBD) systems, inside the vehicle, have monitored and controlled more and more going on under the hood.  The OBD system checks things like engine speed, ignition timing, and fuel mixture.  Whenever one of these things isn’t working just right, the OBD is programmed to bring things back into balance and optimize engine performance.

The check engine light doesn’t trip unless the OBD has identified a problem, attempted to correct it and the problem persists.  This light can come on for something as little as a loose gas cap (easy fix) or as big as an engine that is misfiring (not so easy to fix).

 

What should I do now?

Take a couple of deep breaths…you’ll be okay.  Now, if the light just came on, and it’s not flashing, there’s no need to panic.  You might even try tightening the gas cap just to see if it’s an easy fix (this actually happen quite often).  If the light doesn’t go off after a few miles, consider making an appointment at Axleboy.  Our OBDII certified technicians can read the trouble codes stored in the vehicle and tell you what will correct the problem.

If, however, the check engine light is flashing, something may be critically wrong inside the engine and it would be in your best interest to get your vehicle checked out ASAP.

 

When you need auto service, you know who to call.  Axleboy, (636)939-5337.