Avoid a Mechanic Rip Off


Some people can be suspicious of car service mechanics, especially when additional work is found to be required once a routine service has been undertaken. This is not helped by a minority out there who don’t always do the right thing. Fear not there is help out there to ensure you find a mechanic you trust.

So, how do you know if your mechanic is genuinely providing sound advice, or whether they are taking you for a ride? There are certainly some measures you can take to protect yourself. We found this interesting article about choosing a car mechanic to undertake your car service that may help you to identify what to look for in a good mechanic and some things that might ring alarm bells.

Whenever You Take Your Car in for Repairs:

  • Choose a reliable repair shop. Family, friends or an independent consumer rating organization should be able to help you. Look for shops that display various certifications that are current.
  • Describe the symptoms. Don’t try to diagnose the problem.
  • Make it clear that work cannot begin until you have a written estimate and you give your okay. . Never sign a blank repair order. If the problem can’t be diagnosed on the spot, insist that the shop contact you for authorization once the trouble has been found.
  • Ask the shop to keep the old parts for you.
  • If a repair is covered under warranty, follow the warranty instructions..
  • Get all repair warranties in writing.
  • Keep copies of all paperwork.

Essential Items to Keep in Your Car


When we think of car safety, airbags and seatbelts spring to mind – and rightly so. However, we often overlook the smaller items that can go a long way to keeping things under control in an emergency situation. It doesn’t take much money to stock your car, and having these tools at hand wherever you are can protect you and your passengers until that tow truck shows.

Owner’s Manual
The hefty owner’s manual found in your glove box is probably the first item to get moved out when you need room to store that iPod connector and GPS unit, but you never know when you’ll need it while on the road. In it, you can find all kinds of information from an explanation on the warning light that just illuminated or the type of oil your car requires –bits of knowledge that you’d rather not guess on when the time comes.

Jumper Cables
Leave your lights on overnight? Yep, we’ve done it too. In fact, most drivers have experienced the sound of a sharp click instead of an engine turning over at one time or another, but those who have jumper cables don’t need to panic or have to rely on the tow truck. If you have cables within reach, flagging down a fellow driver and connecting the leads is all it takes to get your car going again.

Distilled Water
We can’t live without the stuff, which means water tends to come in handy when stranded by the side of the road. Keeping a container of water in your car will help stave off dehydration while you wait for help to come. In warmer areas, it can also be used to top off your radiator so your car doesn’t overheat – just be sure to use distilled water instead of tap water to avoid rust formation.

First-Aid Kit
We keep Band-Aids, antiseptic cream and a variety of other first-aid items tucked away in a medicine cabinet at home, so it makes sense to have a first-aid kit in your car too. You’ll delve into it to cover up that paper cut on your kid’s finger or to administer more critical first aid in serious situations.

Duct Tape and Rope
Duct tape and rope have about a million uses, and while they can create a mean cat’s cradle and impervious wallets, they also tend to help in automotive situations.

Blanket or Large Towel
Anything large enough to cover you and provide extra warmth will do the job here. The goal with a blanket is that it should keep you nice and toasty if the heater breaks or you have to spend the night in your car, when staying warm is a priority.

Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman
They don’t call them multi-tools for nothing; these handy little gadgets hold pint-sized versions of the tools you’ll need in everyday life and they are so compact that there’s no reason not to have one in your glove box. From screwdrivers to tweezers, you’ll always have a tool suited for the job at hand.

Tire Pressure Gauge
Maintaining the recommended pressure in your tires is important for a number of reasons– fuel economy stays on target and your tires are less likely to blow out. Having a tire pressure gauge in the car means you can quickly check the pressure anywhere, and you won’t have to rely on the potentially inaccurate ones at the gas station.

Snack Bar
If you’ve ever spent three hours stationary on the highway because a trucker decided to spill his entire load of canned goods across four lanes, you’ll know exactly how important having a little snack in the car can be. No one wants to resort to scrounging for food in the seat cushions and feeling lightheaded from hunger while driving probably isn’t the safest option. A snack bar goes a long way when waiting for a tow truck to reach you as well.

Napkins, Tissues or Paper Towels
We tend to do a lot of eating and drinking in our cars – it’s only natural when we spend so much time in them. But spills also happen, and so do marker stains, runny noses and even bouts of crying – hey, everyone’s had a bad day, right? Be able to give friends a lift with dignity by keeping your car, your kids, and your face clean.

Updated Registration and Insurance Card
Even the best of us get pulled over for some reason or another. The laws vary state to state, but most require you show registration and proof of insurance when you get pulled over. Don’t make the nice policeman mad by not having the proper documentation on you. Your insurance card and all the information it contains will also be mighty useful if you get into a fender bender.

Home for the Holidays: Is Your Car Up for the Journey?


Before you pack up the car to head home for the holidays, we reminds you to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Conducting a thorough vehicle inspection will help you avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

“It’s easy to remember to get your family ready for the holiday festivities, but what about preparing the car that’s going to get you there?” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Having a pre-inspection performed on your car will give you peace of mind as you travel and help make your journey safer.”

Before leaving home, the We recommends a check of the following, often overlooked, items: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection provides the opportunity to have service repairs made at home by your own trusted technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chance of costly and dangerous trouble on the road,” said Rich While.

We also recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, a flashlight and a blanket. A copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide should be kept in the glove box and can be ordered free of charge.