Resist the temptation to suggest a specific course of repair.
Just as you would your physician, tell where it hurts and how long it's been that way, but LET THE TECHNICIAN DIAGNOSE and recommend a remedy. Professional repair establishments have always recognized the importance of communications in automotive repairs. Once you are at the repair establishment, communicate your findings. Be prepared to describe the symptoms. Carry a written list of the symptoms that you can give to the technician.
Batteries and alternators.
Cold weather increases the strain on the battery, ask yourself, is yours run down? A good battery will accept and hold a charge. A bad battery won't. Moving from the battery to the alternator, you should know the alternator is designed to maintain battery charge, not to recharge a dead battery. Overloading the charging system with a dead or significantly low battery can actually cause your alternator to fail from being overworked. The object of preventative maintenance is to identify and correct potential problems before they occur. Don't wait until it's the middle of a Colorado Winter to get caught in the cold!
Cold temperatures test your vehicle's performance and make maintenance even more critical. All your vehicles fluids should be inspected before the cold weather sets in. This includes brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. At Mancinelli's, all these fluids are inspected routinely when you bring your vehicle in for an oil service. Hot weather in the summer causes fluids to evaporate and break down which causes the fluid to lose its lubrication properties. Heat also causes hoses, seals, gaskets and other connections to leak. In addition, it's a good idea to have the coolant flushed with the proper coolant based on manufacturer's recommendation (see your owners manual). It is recommended that your coolant be flushed every two years (unless using an extended-life coolant in many newer vehicles) and fall is a great time to do it. Lastly, switching to a synthetic oil will help your vehicle operate more efficiently and will also make it easier to start in extremely cold weather.
Belts and hoses.
Belts, hoses, thermostats and clamps should be inspected for damage and wear as well as functionality. Replacing worn or damaged parts now before the cold weather comes will keep you on the road and out of the shop with these repairs which could lead to more costly repairs down the road. Also beware of the 'quickie' change shops and have your belts, hoses and filters inspected by a Mancinelli's ASE Certified Technician. We promise we won't try to replace something that doesn't need to be!
Steps to choosing the right car repair facitility.
ASE-National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. A nonprofit organization developed in the early '70s to certify technicians ability to repair vehicles in 9 different mechanical areas. When a technician is certified in 8 of the mechanical areas, he/she is considered a master technician. This organization is recognized as the authority on certification in this industry. ASA-Automotive Service Association. This is a nonprofit association of independent repair facility owners numbering over 12,000 members. It provides many benefits such as a nationwide warranty, technician training and most importantly, management training. This management training is the best in the industry and teaches technicians to become responsible business owners. When a certain number of credits have been achieved the recipient is awarded the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation. It is the only industry specific designation of it's type.
When you meet with the repair facility representative, here is a list of questions you want to have answered:
Ask if they could walk you through the facility. Don't be hesitant to ask this, as most owners are very proud of the commitment they have made to deliver quality repair to their customers. You want to look for equipment and see its condition. You want to try and get a "gut feeling" about the operation. Were they pleasant to talk to? Did you get straight answers to all your questions? Is this a business you would like to deal with?
By following these steps, you will lessen your chances of being disappointed with a repair facility. It will also allow you to develop a relationship that should last many years.
Can't you just hook the vehicle's computer up to that machine that tells you what's wrong with it?
Modern vehicles are complex and have dozens of components and sensors to detect various problems your vehicle might have. These sensors discover that there is something amiss. When our technicians hook up a scan tool to your vehicle's computer, they are given a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC). While these codes simplify diagnosis, they often do not pinpoint exactly what is wrong but rather give the technician a general 'area' in which the trouble code came from and a place to start. The technician must then physically and visually examine the area to detect the problem and determine the source of failure.
What does the "Check Engine" Light mean?
Your "Check Engine Light" comes on when a sensor in your vehicle alerts the computer that there is a problem somewhere with the vehicle. Most people panic when they see this light and think their vehicle is going to have a major break down when realistically, the light can come on for any number of reasons and does not necessarily mean your vehicle will break down. When this light comes on, it's a good idea to take the vehicle to a reputable repair shop to have the problem diagnosed. If your vehicle seems to be running fine, it probably isn't an emergency to take in right away, but do have the problem diagnosed in a timely manner to avoid complications or more costly repairs due to ignoring the light.
Why are my brakes squealing / making noise?
Simple answer? I don't know. Sounds funny doesn't it? The truth is, until we take a look we can't tell you. What we can tell you is that there are many reasons brakes will make noises and not always do you even need any repairs to your brakes because they make noise.
First, understand that a high-pitched scraping or squealing noise that goes away when you step on the brake may be telling you that the brake pads are worn - but only with brake pads that have wear sensors attached. Note that a grinding, metal-against-metal sound when braking indicates that it's too late: Your brake pads or shoes are completely worn away, and you are now ruining the rotors or drums. You should have had the brakes inspected earlier! Now, Feel the brake pedal. If it is soft or mushy or gets harder and higher when you pump it, you might need to have the brakes bled (which gets air bubbles out of the brake system). Note that if the brake pedal slowly sinks to the floor when you step on it, you might be in need of a new brake master cylinder. Drive the car at low speed, braking as needed. If the brakes squeal, you might need new brake pads, or the brake rotors might need to be resurfaced or machined. Understand that if the car pulls to one side when braking, you might have insufficient hydraulic pressure in one part of the brake system, or one brake might be sticking. Front-end problems can also cause this symptom. Consider your rotors if you feel a pulsation when stepping on the brake pedal, particularly when braking at higher speeds. This symptom may indicate warped brake rotors. The rotors will need to be either machined or replaced. Remember that smoking brakes, usually accompanied by a very bad smell, indicate a stuck brake caliper or wheel cylinder. This symptom may also be caused by driving with the hand brake on or by a stuck hand-brake cable.
Another scenario is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your brakes and they simply make noise.
What do you give for a warranty?
Our warranty runs from 6 months, up to 4 years/50,000 miles. You will be advised as to what the warranty for your repairs will be when you talk to our service consultant about your vehicle.
How important is wheel alignment?
Think of it this way - research indicates that the average car is driven about 12 to 15,000 miles per year. A car with toe alignment just .34 degrees (just 0.17 inches in layman's terms) out of specifications has dragged its tires sideways for at least 68 miles by the end of the year (at 12,000 miles of driving).
What are the symptoms of a vehicle that is out of alignment?
How often should you have your vehicle aligned?
Follow your vehicle's manufacturers recommendation as noted in your owner's manual. As a general rule, HAVE YOUR TIRES CHECKED EVERY 10,000 MILES OR AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.
Why use ASE-certified auto technicians?
Consumers benefit from ASE's certification program since it takes much of the guesswork out of finding a competent technician. Perhaps years ago, any shade-tree mechanic would do; after all, cars were simpler, less complex. But with today's high-tech vehicles, the margin for error is less. Mistakes can be costly. It makes good financial sense to protect your automotive investment through regular, periodic maintenance and service performed by certified professionals. Because ASE's program is voluntary, technicians who have taken the time and expense to earn ASE certification can be counted on to have a strong sense of pride in accomplishment, which should be good news for consumers. Moreover, prior to taking ASE exams, many technicians attend training classes or study after work. The time they spend sharpening their skills should be advantageous to consumers as well.