Auto repair check-up: Don't ignore warning signs
For 26 years, Jim Tupper, owner of highly rated Jim’s Automotive Center in Norwood, which also services Boston, has been providing his customers with quality service, honesty and value. “We try to make the customers happy on all levels,” Tupper says. “We know a car is very important in each person’s life.”
What guide-lines should I follow to keep my car in good condition?
Jim Tupper: "Basic maintenance is a must. Treat your car the way you treat your body. Keep it healthy. Every 15,000 miles or so, your car should undergo general maintenance. Follow the guide that came with your car to save you money and avoid getting stranded.
"Regular oil changes are very important. During every second or third oil change, have your tires rotated to give them the longest life. Tires wear differently on the front than the rear.
Tupper suggests that drivers keep a kit of tools in their trunk in case of an emergency, including jumper cables, a flashlight, roadside flares, a reflective triangle, warm blankets, a first aid kit and a tow strap. In addition, keep a LifeHammer in your glove box, in case you get trapped inside your vehicle.
"Pay attention to tire labels when buying new ones, because you could pay just a few more dollars and get an additional 15,000 miles of use. Typically, tires last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, depending on road, weather and driving conditions.
"Car computers are so sensitive now it doesn't take much to turn on your check engine light. However, if the light is flashing, get your car fixed promptly. Any red light on your dashboard means to stop and check it right away. People ruin their engines by thinking they can go just a few more miles.
"Brakes can last from 20,000 to 60,000 miles. Your mechanic can tell you when your brakes are starting to wear and when they will need work. Obviously, you don't want to wait until the car is unable to stop.
"Change your car battery every four years. There is no sense getting stranded. Most cars have long-life coolant fluid, but you should still change it every four years.
"Anyone can open an auto service shop. That is why you need to check it out and do a little research before you leave an essential part of your lifestyle in the hands of someone you don't know. Hire a mechanic certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). That's a good start.
"At a dealership, everyone involved with repair is paid on a commission. If they up-sell you something, their commission is higher, so they push a lot of service. A general repair shop will have a lot more knowledge on your whole car.
"Today's cars are much more complicated, so servicing just one piece can affect other parts of the car. Always ask your mechanic why the repair is needed. Be involved in your service the same way you are with a doctor proposing an operation. Check out Angie's List before you hire a mechanic."