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Posts Tagged ‘auto repairs’

Flatlining: What Happened to the Spare Tire?

Alternatives like run-flats and inflator kits are costly and can still leave a motorist stranded.

by on Nov.12, 2015

Flat tires are still a common occurence.

Out of sight, out of mind?

Spare tires used to be such an important part of a vehicle that they were often incorporated in the basic shape of many models from the so-called golden era of design. For years, the Lincoln Continental’s trunk bore the distinctive, rounded shape of a spare – even when the fifth tire was moved to a less prominent storage location.

While a few classic SUVs, like the Jeep Wrangler, still give their spares prominent placement, those back-up tires are now more likely to be tucked under the trunk’s load floor – that is, if you have a spare at all. In many vehicles, from the sporty Chevrolet Camaro to the mainstream Ford Fusion, spares have been left out entirely.

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By various estimates, somewhere between a third and a half of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. this year will come sans spare. Instead, manufacturers are opting for alternatives like tire inflator kits or run-flat tires, the latter designed to keep running for as much as 50 miles even if they lose pressure.


One in Three Americans Skips Vehicle Service, Repairs

Unnecessarily increasing the odds of a breakdown.

by on Oct.09, 2015

AAA made 24 mil roadside calls in 2014.

Are you tempting fate? You are if you are among the 35% of Americans who have been skipping or delaying vehicle service and repairs, according to a new study by AAA.

The motoring and travel organization wants that putting off repairs, such as oil changes, and battery and tire replacements, can not only leave a family stranded on the side of the road but put their health and safety at risk. A delayed repair also can mean higher costs later.

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“According to a survey of AAA’s certified Approved Auto Repair shops, consumers that forget or ignore recommended maintenance ultimately pay higher repair costs,” cautioned John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “These repair facilities estimate drivers can save an average of one hundred dollars per visit simply by properly maintaining their vehicle.”


Volvo Offering Lifetime Warranty on Repairs

Program covers both parts and labor on post-warranty service.

by on Jul.10, 2015

Once your new Volvo comes off warranty you'd only have to pay for a covered repair once, even if the part breaks again.

Tired of fixing your old car and then having to pay for the same repair a year or two later? Volvo has an answer for you.

The Swedish maker has introduced a new lifetime warranty on repair parts and labor it’s calling the “Pay Once and Never Pay Again” program. The program appears to be aimed at both building the brand’s image and helping drive more repair work into dealer service bays.

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“The lifetime parts and labor warranty is a commitment to both quality vehicles and quality customer relationships,” says Lex Kerssemakers, the recently appointed President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, “everyone should feel confident that Volvo is here to support our customers throughout the ownership of their vehicle.”


Your Next GM Car Could Alert You Before it Breaks Down

Maker developing “active, preventive maintenance system.”

by on Nov.14, 2014

The next version of the Chevy Impala may alert you to a possible mechanical problem before it happens.

If you haven’t just gotten your driver’s license last week, odds are you’ve faced that mysterious and inexplicable “Check Engine” light at least once or twice, leaving you the choice of heading to the dealer or ignoring the indicator, hoping the bulb might burn out.  Then again, you might have gotten no warning whatsoever when your battery died or a water pump failed.

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General Motors is developing an “active, preventive maintenance” system that could avoid such headaches by giving a motorist a detailed alert before something on the vehicle breaks, says the maker’s global product development chief.

“We’re testing the system now with our employees,” noted Mark Reuss, during a lunchtime interview.


It’s No Beer Can – But Ford Must Convince Consumers Aluminum F-150 is Rugged, Durable, Affordable

Perceptions important - but Ford must also bring repair shops onboard.

by on Jan.21, 2014

Ford needs to make customers feel comfortable with the new aluminum-intensive design of the 2015 F-150.

Few new models have drawn more headlines lately, and there have been long lines to view the new Ford F-150 at the North American International Auto Show, where the 2015 pickup made its debut last week.

The question is whether the new full-size truck will be the year’s big success story or one of the auto industry’s historic failures.  The 2015 F-150 shifts from a traditional steel body to one made of lightweight aluminum, a move that is expected to yield significant improvements in fuel economy.  But the new approach has some potential serious risks, industry observers caution, that could cut into Ford’s traditional lead in a market segment that generated close to 2 million sales last year.

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While Ford is expected to promote the savings on fuel the new F-150 should yield, the automaker’s marketing manager, Doug Scott, also concedes that truck buyers tend to track costs much more closely than most other vehicle buyers. And one of the key questions is whether the use of aluminum will result in higher long-term operating costs, most notably in terms of durability, reliability and all but inevitable repairs.


Wyoming Has Highest Auto Repair Costs

An ounce of prevention.

by on Jun.26, 2012

Repair costs vary widely, not only by brand but also by location, according to a new study.

We all know that it can rapidly drain your wallet getting repairs done on some of the more exotic imports, but even for mainstream brands repair costs can quickly add up if you’re out of warranty.  And a new study suggests that no matter what product you own costs will vary widely depending upon where you live.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, it’s not New York or California that top the list, according to a new survey by auto repair website CarMD.  A study based on 163,000 repairs made by ASE-certified technicians found that Wyoming motorists paid the highest cost in the country for repairs triggered by that dreaded dashboard “Check Engine” warning light.

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On average, repairs averaged $389.18 for Wyoming residents, about 17% more than the national average.  By comparison, the lowest-cost shops were located in Indiana, where repairs for the same work came in at about $100 less – an average $283.95.

Curiously, nine of the 10 most expensive states were located out West, according to CarMD, the exception being tenth-ranked New Jersey.


Lexus, Mini Top Brands for Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service

Study finds dealers ranked above independent service shops.

by on Mar.14, 2012

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Customer Service chart for a fourth consecutive year.

For the fourth year in a row, Lexus has topped the charts as the brand delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction when it comes to dealer service.  Among mainstream brands, Mini led the list for the second consecutive year, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The annual Customer Service Index, or CSI, found that overall satisfaction with dealer service has improved substantially over the last year, perhaps reflecting efforts by automakers to build brand loyalty.  Significantly, survey respondents revealed they are generally more pleased with the service they get at the dealer than with work done by independent repair shops.

“Steady improvements in vehicle quality, longer intervals between recommended service visits and a higher mix of maintenance service events have had a positive effect on overall dealer service satisfaction,” said Chris Sutton, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates.

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“Moreover,” Sutton added, “manufacturers and their dealers have instituted broad-based customer service improvement initiatives to increase satisfaction with both the purchase experience and after-sales service, with the understanding that a substandard service occasion can and will impact their ability to make a future vehicle sale or gain repeat service business.”


12 Tips for Prepping Your Car for Summer

A few simple steps can save you fuel, reduce repairs and improve performance.

by on May.02, 2011

Some simple steps can prevent this.

If $4 gas hasn’t scared you off on plans for a summer vacation, you may already be getting out the map – or plugging your destination into the navigation computer.

But laying out a good route is only one of the steps you need to take when warm weather approaches, whether you’re planning a cross-country drive or simply expecting to continue your daily commute.

The buds and flowers are only one of the signs that summer is coming up fast.  If you’re not prepared, you could personally experience another familiar, if far less enjoyable, sign of warm weather – the cars stuck on the side of the road, fan belts busted or radiators boiling over.

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Last year, AAA recorded about 9.3 million service calls during the summer, nearly 500,000 of them just during the Memorial Day holiday.

The numbers are all the more likely to increase as the nation’s automotive fleet continues to age.  People are also holding onto the family chariot longer than ever — the average ownership of a new car now a record 64 months, according to industry data, a 14% increase since 2001, while used car ownership has risen to 52 months, also a record high.  So, even though today’s vehicles are more reliable than ever, they need to be well-maintained to run properly.


Keeping Collision Repairs as Painless as Possible

Putting a dent in America’s $40 bil annual accident repair bill.

by on Mar.22, 2011

Americans spend $40 bil annually on collision repairs.

Whether it’s the result of a parking lot ding, a freeway fender bender or something more serious, almost every driver will eventually wind up needing to find an auto collision shop.

That adds up to a nationwide bill of around $40 billion a year, according to repair industry estimates.  Yet, short of doing the work yourself there are ways to cut the cost of your personal collision work.

Five simple steps can put a dent in your bills, said President Shane Evangelist, “add(ing) up to potentially huge cost savings for car owners, whether they are DIYing or going to the repair shop.”

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First, shop around for the best repair shop and make sure to check the labor rates they’ve posted.  Evangelist noted that most service shops actually post two different rates, one for mechanical rates, like tune-ups or a brake repair, the other for collision work.  The good news is that collision repair rates are usually lower.

And once the work is done, check your bill carefully to ensure you weren’t over-charged.


Lexus, Mini, top J.D. Power Customer Service Index

Customers face little "upsell" pressure from dealer service shops.

by on Mar.11, 2011

The repair shop can make a big difference in the way a customer views a dealership - and a brand.

Lexus and Mini are the brands most likely to satisfy customers – at least those owners who take their vehicles in for service, reports J.D. Power and Associates.

While its conventional wisdom that consumers will be heavily pressed to make unnecessary repairs by greedy dealers, the 2011 Customer Service Index reveals that very few owners actually face “upsell” pressure from dealers who want to perform unnecessary repairs.

Only 7% of customers faced such pressures, according to Power’s survey of nearly 100,000 owners and lessees of 2006 through 2010 model-year vehicles.  But the report reveals that the older the vehicle the more likely an owner is to face upselling.  And, in some cases, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, reports Power.

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Suggesting additional service work can actually benefit both customers and dealerships,” according to Jon Osborn, Power’s research director, because “customers may prolong the life of their vehicle while service facilities may gain additional revenue.”

Nonetheless, he stressed that dealers need to properly train their staff to suggest additional work only when it is truly necessary – and not to make customers feel unduly pressured.