It’s a rare motorist who doesn’t have strong feelings about today’s sport utility vehicles. Love ’em or hate ’em, one thing is certain-just like their automobile cousins, SUVs last longer, operate more efficiently, and command a higher resale value when they are properly maintained and serviced.
For those too busy or too overwhelmed by modern vehicles to perform their own maintenance, the pros at the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offer some advice on choosing a repair establishment:
- Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one.
- Ask friends and associates for recommendations; consult local consumer organizations.
- Arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based solely on location.
- Look for a neat, well organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.
- Look for a courteous staff, with a service writer willing to answer all of your questions.
- Look for posted policies regarding labor rates, diagnostic fees, guarantees, acceptable methods of payment, etc.
- Ask if the repair facility usually handles your type of repair work.
- Start off with a minor job and progress to more complex
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be an ASE-certified automotive technician, consider this: In the span of one career, automotive engine technology alone has advanced from purely mechanical devices that need periodic adjustments to sophisticated, computer-controlled systems that can actually compensate for normal wear.
The same can be said for virtually every major system on today’s vehicles, from brakes to transmissions. And the technicians who service and maintain our vehicle fleet have had to learn it all. In fact, to be an ASE-certified automotive technician today is to commit to a lifetime of training just to keep abreast of changing technology.
Maintenance more necessary than ever before
Modern vehicles are wonders of engineering. In just the past decade, maintenance intervals for things like spark plugs, emissions and cooling systems have been stretched out to 100,000 miles in some vehicles.
But the need for periodic maintenance hasn’t changed. In fact, given the longer life expectancy of today’s vehicles, the need for periodic maintenance has never been greater if you expect to get the most from what has become the second biggest
Technician certification organization ASE surveys show a well-maintained vehicle not only lasts longer, it retains more of its resale value.
With a sluggish economic recovery and today’s consumers watching their finances carefully, it’s no surprise that the average age of vehicles in the United States is more than 11 years old, according to automotive research firm R.L. Polk and Co. With motorists holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before, maintenance takes an even greater importance in keeping roads — and people — safe.
The cost of neglect
“It’s tempting to avoid car maintenance in tough economic times, but that’s not a financially sound method to manage the big investment you’ve made in your vehicle,” notes Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). “Surveys of our certified technicians show that a well-maintained vehicle lasts longer, retains more of its resale value, pollutes less, and gets better mileage than one that’s been neglected — to say nothing of being safer to operate.”
According to the pros at ASE, neglect causes components to wear out faster than they would otherwise (poorly aligned tires, for example) and can result in minor problems growing into more expensive
As the holidays approach, motorists should make certain their vehicle is up to the rigors of winter travel. Autumn has traditionally been a busy time for carcare activities. Whether you do your own maintenance or depend on the pros, fall service let’s you undo the wear and tear of summer’s tough conditions while getting ready for colder weather ahead.
The following tips from the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) should give you a road map to fall car care. According to officials at ASE, “Cold weather will only make existing problems worse. A breakdown, while never pleasant, can be deadly in the winter.”
First things first
Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters air, fuel, PCV, etc.
Put a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000
There are more vehicles on U.S. roads than ever before. With an estimated 240.5 million cars and light trucks crowding our roads as of 2011, your safety and that of others is at risk when your vehicle isn’t stopping and steering at its best. Reducing your vehicle’s stopping distance by just an inch or so could make the difference between a minor scare and a major fender bender.
Crowded roads aren’t the only concern. The roads themselves are often in a sorry state of repair. Portions of our highway system (including many bridges) haven’t seen much in the way of maintenance or repair since they were built.
In cold climates, the freeze/thaw cycle enlarges cracks and holes in the pavement. In sunnier spots, the heat, heavy cargo hauling and years of neglect take their own toll on roads. The result can be a moonscape of potholes that can affect the handling of your vehicle. Bad roads can cause suspension components, so vital to steering control and handling, to grow old before their time.
But you don’t have to be an automotive expert to keep your vehicle’s stopping and steering systems safe. An ASE-certified brake service technician is trained to diagnose problems and identify