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KIA of Lincoln, NE Blog

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Ask Six Simple Questions to Select the Right Auto Repair Shop

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Ask six simple questions to help identify the right auto repair shop to properly care for one of your most valuable assets, your car.

Does the business employ ASE-certified technicians? Credentials and affiliations are indicators of professionalism and the management’s commitment to training and education.

  1. Is the shop and customer waiting area clean and organized? Cleanliness and organization are signs of a well-run business.
  2. Are customers greeted and treated in a friendly and respectful manner? Many auto repair businesses excel in the area of customer service and satisfaction. A simple phone call to the shop to inquire about their services can give you a glimpse of how they treat customers.
  3. Does the business provide a written estimate? The business should complete a written estimate and request your signature prior to starting any repairs on your car.
  4. Does the business offer a warranty? Most auto repair businesses offer a warranty on parts and labor and the warranty is usually in writing or posted in the waiting area.
  5. Does the business have a list of satisfied customers or references that it is willing to give you? Satisfied customers and recommendations from family, friends and neighbors are helpful in finding a good shop. Many auto repair facilities also have company websites that are worth checking out as they often include testimonials and additional information about the business.

A vehicle is a major purchase for most people, so it makes sense to take the time to select an auto repair facility that will take the best care of that investment. Being an informed auto care consumer means not only learning about your vehicle and its service needs, but also the facility that will make the repairs.

RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF VEHICLE ENGINE DAMAGE

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It’s not always easy to recognize when your vehicle is suffering from engine damage as symptoms can be overlooked and seen as “normal.” While not all sounds and smells may threaten the life of your engine, there are some obvious warning signs that require a vehicle inspection right away.

Early diagnosis of engine damage can most likely be treated, but it is important to be aware of potentially damaging symptoms and have the vehicle inspected if something doesn’t seem right. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs as soon as possible, you could be saving yourself from the cost and hassle of breaking down along the road.

One of the signs of engine trouble is an illuminated check engine light. This light indicates that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally. Ignoring the check engine light can negatively impact your fuel economy or cause damage resulting in more costly repairs.

Many motorists are familiar with the noises their vehicles make on a daily basis. However, any noise that is new, different or suspicious may indicate a problem, including a high-pitched squeal, grinding or thumping. Sounds under the hood, such as hissing, can also indicate that your vehicle is in need of attention.

Although all cars burn fossil fuels that create undesired emissions, these odors should remain outside of the car. Unusual smells that could signal engine damage include: burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, sweet smell of syrup, burning carpet and rotten eggs. When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it.

Another symptom of engine damage is excessive amounts of smoke or steam. Although some smoke is normal, excessive amounts of dark smoke in particular indicates that oil is leaking into the combustion chamber and is being burned along with the gasoline.

Invest Tax Refund in Auto Care and Earn Valuable Dividends

Woman with car keyAlthough you may be thinking of ways to splurge with your tax refund, the Car Care Council recommends something more practical – invest some of that money in auto care and reap the financial benefits.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund is over $3,100. By simply allocating a portion to vehicle maintenance and service, you will realize big dividends in the form of safety and dependability. The benefits of auto care don’t stop there. Your vehicle will perform more efficiently, saving money at the pump, and its useful life will be extended, postponing the major expense of purchasing a new car.

With proper care, the typical vehicle should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable performance. The most common routine maintenance procedures and repairs include checking the oil, filters and fluids, belts and hoses, brakes, tires and the HVAC system. The non-profit Car Care Council also recommends an annual tune-up and wheel alignment.

Things to know about speeding

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Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These include areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as school zones and streets lots of intersections close together. Driving over the speed limit can put you and others at risk of harm. 

  • Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left. That means children are crossing the street.
  • If you hear a siren coming behind you, pull to the side if you can, stop and wait until the police car or fire truck goes by. 
  • Completely stop at stop signs and look for other drivers and pedestrians before you proceed.
  • Obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fines, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving privileges. Also, depending on your insurance policy, speeding tickets can raise your rates. 
  • When parking your vehicle, always be mindful of handicapped signs, fire hydrants, bus stop zones, parking restrictions for certain times of day, and parking spots that require permits. Just remember to heed all of the signs. Even if you have to circle the block a couple times, it sure beats getting fined or having your car towed.

What to do if you get pulled over

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If you notice that a police car is following you with the lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach, and be prepared to:

  • Turn on your interior light at night and keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.
  • Don’t reach under your seat or into your glove box. This may cause the officer to think you’re reaching for a weapon or hiding something.
  • Give your license and proof of insurance to the officer if asked. If the officer asks you to step out of your car, do so without sudden or threatening movements.
  • Stay calm − don’t become argumentative, disorderly or abusive − and never attempt to bribe the officer.
  • If a citation is issued, present your story in traffic court if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. You may be represented by a lawyer and, if necessary, you’ll be heard by a judge or magistrate. 

 

What to do after an accident

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If you’re in an accident, first make sure no one in the car is injured. Next, check on the passengers in the other vehicle, pedestrians and anyone else nearby to make sure they’re OK. Then do these five things:

  1. Stay at the scene. Leaving can result in legal consequences, like fines or additional violations.
  2. Call 911 or the local police immediately. They’ll dispatch an officer and medical personnel to the scene of the accident. Once the cops arrive, wait for them to complete an accident report.
  3. If you’re on a busy highway, stay inside the car and wait for the police or an ambulance. It’s dangerous if passengers stand along a freeway or other road with lots of traffic.
  4. Don’t get into an argument or a fight with the other driver. Simply exchange contact and insurance information. If possible, also get the name and phone numbers of witnesses.
  5. Call your insurance provider to report the claim. Your agent will ask you for any paperwork you receive about the accident, and will give you important information on getting your car fixed.

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Why You Can’t Live Without Brake Cleaner

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There’s no denying it, your vehicle’s brakes can be a very dirty place. Between brake dust, petroleum-based brake fluid, grease, grime and road debris, it’s never long before your brakes are in need of a good cleaning. Keeping your brakes clean not only helps them last a lot longer but it can also significantly improve their ability to stop your vehicle.

It’s as easy as choosing the right product. Here’s a look at the benefits of brake cleaner.

With all the services we perform on our vehicles, cleaning the brakes is one of the easiest yet most overlooked. By simply spraying cleaner in the side of the caliper, you can safely and easily remove dust, grease and debris that could potentially impede your vehicle’s braking ability. There are no two ways about it, clean brakes function better and can stop your vehicle in a shorter distance. Brake cleaner is made up of chemical compounds that evaporate as they dry, leaving no residue behind and dissolving grease for perfectly clean brakes. Because of this property however, it’s also great for removing grease and oil from other automotive parts too. Whether you need to remove the grime from the valve cover before you pour fresh oil in or clean a bearing before you re-grease it, cleaner will remove everything. Just be careful around rubber gaskets, seals and the exterior finish of the body — cleaner can dry out or damage these parts. It’s also safe for metal, ceramic and glass so it can be used to clean and treat other things in your life like machine parts and windows. With ever increasing environmental protection requirements, many makers of brake cleaner are moving over to non-chlorinated blends. What’s the difference? All cleaners are made of toxic chemicals but chlorinated cleaners use perchloroethylene, methylene chloride and trichloroethylene, which are considered Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). They’re worse for the environment and have very strong fumes. Non-chlorinated cleaners replace these chemicals with other less toxic, low-VOC chemicals, which are better for you and the earth.

Brake cleaner is one of the most useful automotive products you can get your hands on. With cleaning properties that leave no residue, they can remove grease, oil and dirt from your brakes and help them perform at the top of their game. As more states ban the use of VOC chemicals, non-chlorinated cleaners are becoming more prevalent and are sure to do a great job.

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