Hudson - Litchfield News | April 25, 2014 - 15 “Kn w Y ur Car” Few decisions weigh as heavily on automobile owners as their
choice of mechanic. A good mechanic goes a long way toward ensuring drivers and their passengers stay safe on the road and that those drivers’ vehicles perform at their peak for years to come. That’s an important role to play, and it’s why many drivers acknowledge that choosing a mechanic is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
Rest assured you don’t need to be a car guy or gal to fi nd a
trustworthy and talented mechanic. You might just need to open a dialogue with a prospective mechanic, discussing a handful of topics that can help you feel more comfortable and know you have made the right choice in automotive service provider once a fi nal decision has been made. Certifi cation Certifi cation can go a long way toward helping drivers fi nd me-
chanics they can trust. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence was founded in 1972 and continues to work to improve the quality of automotive service and repair by testing automotive technicians and certifying those who live up to or exceed ASE stan- dards. An ASE-certifi ed technician should have his or her credentials readily available to prospective customers, and these credentials list each professional’s area of certifi cation. When shopping for a new mechanic, make sure that he or she is ASE-certifi ed. In addition, discuss with the mechanic his or her work history, including any ad- ditional areas of expertise. Pricing policies Many mechanics offer free estimates, but that should not be taken
for granted. When bringing a car in for an estimate, drivers should confi rm with the mechanic who will conduct the examination if the
“Kn w Y ur Car”
estimate is free or if they will be charged an inspection fee. In addition to any fees regarding estimates, drivers should also inquire about labor costs and the payment policies at the facility. Labor can be quite expensive, so it’s best that you know these rates in advance of any repairs being conducted on your vehicle. It’s also important to get a rundown of the company payment policies, espe- cially if your vehicle is in need of potentially costly repairs. You don’t want the bill to shock you once the work has been completed, so don’t hesitate to be inquisitive before leaving a car at the garage. Parts
Replacing parts on a
vehicle is a cause for concern for many drivers, and right- fully so. Consumer advocacy groups have exposed many mechanics who pass off used auto parts as new parts, charging their customers new part prices along the way. While there’s no way drivers can guarantee they won’t fall victim to such criminal behavior, they can inquire about company poli- cies regarding vehicle parts. Does the garage even install used parts? If so, do they let drivers choose either new or used parts before any work
Tips When Driving in Rainy Conditions
Rainy weather can arrive any time of year. While an afternoon spent indoors watching the drops fall can be relaxing, driving in the rain is anything but. It requires extra concentration and improved reaction time. Rainy conditions can be challenging and treacherous, and drivers should proceed with caution on rain-slicked roads. Rain is blamed for many accidents, but many of these situations are largely preventable among drivers who adapt to the weather and roadway conditions. Here are some things to consider. * Reduced visibility occurs from wiper blades, glare (particularly at night) and heavy downpours. When you are unable to see the road aheadreduce your speed. If the rain is coming down in torrents, pull over to the side of the road and wait for a respite. Turn on your lights to ensure you are visible to other cars on the road. * Recognize that rain can cause slick conditions. A fi lm of water
develops on the roadways, and that can affect the performance of your vehicle’s tires. Less traction means the car can slip and slide. Hydroplaning, or coasting on the surface of the water, is common. Another, lesser- known condition is slickness caused by grease and oil in the asphalt. During a long dry spell, these substances build up on the roads. When it rains, the oil and water doesn’t mix, bringing the oils to the surface and exacerbating slick conditions. The fi rst few hours of a rainstorm can be quite dangerous until heavier rains wash the oils away. * Water spraying up onto tires and brakes can compromise braking ability. That means it could take longer to stop under wet conditions. Do not tailgate and leave extra room between vehicles. If you drive through a puddle of water, pump the brakes and test them out to be sure you can stop. Brake earlier so that other drivers understand your intentions and can react accordingly. * Avoid extremely
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large puddles. First of all, you cannot judge the depth of the puddle and you may end up getting stuck, especially in the event
roadway fl ooding. Water
splashing into the engine compartment may damage electrical components. Steer around puddles to be on the safe side.
* Use extra
care watching out for
pedestrians. A normally observant person may be distracted by the rain, puddles and wrangling an umbrella
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and veer into the path of cars. * Change wiper blades twice per year. You do not want to be caught with shoddy wiper blades in poor conditions. Without an effective wiper blade, rain cannot be cleared effectively from the windshield. * Limit distractions inside of the car to focus even more of your attention on the road. While some have become accustomed to answering phone calls or fi elding questions from the backseat while driving, avoid such distractions when driving in the rain. Turn down the radio if you must and encourage passengers to remain quiet until safely home. * Leave extra time to get to your destination. Rain causes slowing
down of traffi c. Rushing may increase your risk of being in an accident, so always leave extra travel time when driving in wet conditions.
Making a few adjustments improves safety on the roadways.
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Monthly AUTO SECTION Topics to Discuss Before Hiring Your Next Mechanic
is done? If the garage only uses new parts, ask for parts with solid warranties, so if the part must be replaced, you won’t have to pay for it again.
Documentation The preowned vehicle market is thriving, and drivers who take
care of their vehicles have earned the right to reap their rewards for being good owners when it comes time to sell the car. When interviewing prospective mechanics, ask if they are willing to pro- vide detailed documentation of any work they do on your vehicle. Such documentation can then be shared with prospective buyers when you want to sell the car, and it also serves as a way to keep the garage accountable for all the work they have done on the car throughout your relationship.
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