Neglected Car Service Costing Motorists

In difficult economic times, it’s natural to cut back on spending. But according to the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), putting off automotive maintenance and service can cost you more in the long run.

Neglecting vehicle maintenance can cause small problems to grow into more expensive repairs. For example, failing to replace worn brake pads or a faulty oxygen sensor – both relatively easy services for qualified auto technicians – can result in an expensive brake rotor service or the costly replacement of the vehicle’s catalytic converter. In addition, a well-maintained vehicle gets better gasoline mileage, pollutes less, is safer to operate and commands a better resale value.

Earth-Friendly Tips for Motorists

Motorists who want to go “green” don’t have to change vehicles to help the environment. Changing a few habits can make a big difference, say the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals.

According to Martin Lawson, editorial director at ASE, regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits are two strategies that virtually every vehicle owner can embrace. The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious care today:

12 Must-Read Car Repair Tips to Find a Trustworthy Mechanic

Car breakdowns are never a good thing. But breakdowns in freezing temperatures and on icy roads are just plain dangerous.

This winter, make sure you and your family are protected when you take to the roads. Get your car checked out by a trusted repair shop as soon as possible.

To help you find the mechanic that’s right for you, check out these 12 car repair shop tips from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE):

1. Don’t Wait ‘Til It’s Too Late: Start shopping for a repair shop before you need one. That means now!

Earth-Friendly Tips for Motorists

<b>Earth-Friendly Tips for Motorists</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Some day, hydrogen-powered vehicles may be commonplace, but in the meantime, motorists who want to go “green” don’t have to change vehicles to help the environment. The experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a non-profit organization founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair, say that drivers simply need to change a few habits. “Regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits are two strategies that virtually every vehicle owner can embrace,” notes Martin Lawson, editorial director at ASE. The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious care today:

* Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual.

* Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Inflated tires reduce the engine’s effort and gasoline consumption.

* Find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technicians’ credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.

* Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.

* Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations; both habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.

* Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Remove that rooftop luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.

* If you do your own repairs, properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Some repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local government for information.

Visit www.ase.com for more seasonal car care tips and for information about the benefits of using ASE-certified technicians for auto repairs and service.

Spring Is the Season for Auto Care

<b>Spring Is the Season for Auto Care</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – After a season of winter driving, a springtime check-up for your car might be in order. Most anyone can do routine automotive housekeeping chores: Remove unneeded winter gear from your trunk, clean out trash and clutter, and wash and wax your car to remove accumulated grime and salt deposits. The experts at the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offer the following advice for more ambitious automotive projects:

• Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules.

• If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for an orderly repair shop with modern equipment in the service bays and qualified automotive technicians as evidenced by trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced courses and ASE certifications.

• Have engine performance problems — hard starts, rough idling, stalling — corrected now, before summer’s demanding stop-and-go vacation traffic.

• For comfort in hot weather now’s the time, too, to have a marginally working air conditioning system serviced.

• Flush and refill the cooling system according to the service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (Make sure the engine has cooled down before removing the radiator cap.)

• A qualified auto technician should check the tightness and condition of belts, clamps and hoses, but you can look for signs of wear, cracking, or fraying.

• Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended in the service manual.

• Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Let the tires “cool down” before checking their pressure. Uneven wear, “cupping,” vibrations, or “pulling” to one side indicates problems with your tires or suspension system. If applicable, have snow tires pulled and replaced with seasonal tires.

• Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner’s manual. Often neglected, this simple service is one of the easiest ways to extend the life of your vehicle.

ASE was founded to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification. Their employers often display the blue and white ASE sign. Visit www.ase.com for more car care tips.

A New Year’s Resolution For Your Car

<b>A New Year’s Resolution For Your Car</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Getting more organized is a common New Year’s Resolution — whether it’s a harried taxpayer’s pledge to be a better record keeper or a pack rat’s promise to de-clutter. “Getting organized works wonders for the family car,” notes Martin Lawson, editorial director for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). “The money saved from approaching your vehicle in a systematic manner is a pretty strong incentive to keep your resolution.”

The following tips from ASE will help motorists get and stay organized.

– Record Keeping. Keep a copy of every completed work order, from oil changes and brake service to major repairs. In addition to helping document any warranty work, a complete service record is very appealing to potential buyers.

– Service Reminders. Read your owner’s manual and follow the service schedules listed. Some shops send out automatic reminders to their regular customers. Many of today’s manufacturers include e-mailed reminders and even remote satellite diagnostic reports. Timely, regular maintenance saves money in the long run by helping your vehicle run efficiently.

– Tactical Care. Don’t ignore service-engine lights, poor engine performance, rough handling, fading brakes or other issues that present themselves. Neglect can cost more in the long run by making minor issues worse. For example, brake pads are cheaper and easier to replace than are brake rotors.

– Housekeeping. Don’t use the trunk as a catch-all. Keep only essential items there. Remove roof-top cargo carriers as soon as your trip is over. Less clutter means less weight, which means better gasoline mileage. Keep your vehicle’s interior clean of trash and clutter and vacuum the seats and carpeting on a regular basis to prevent premature wear and tear and staining. Wax your car at least once a year to help preserve the paint job (and its resale value).

– Heal Thyself. Other automotive resolutions are less about your vehicle and more about you. Avoid jackrabbit starts; sudden accelerations waste fuel and are hard on the engine. Slow down; speeding greatly decreases miles per gallon. Hard stops wear out brakes.

Visit www.ase.com for seasonal car care tips and information about certified automotive technicians.

A Winter Checklist For Drivers

<b>A Winter Checklist For Drivers</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As the temperature drops, car batteries produce less power, belts and hoses become more brittle, tires lose air pressure and engine oil thickens. In a few words, winter is tough on vehicles.

“Marginally operating systems can fail outright in extreme weather,” notes Martin Lawson, editorial director for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The following tips from ASE will help motorists prepare for winter’s toughest conditions:

Cooling System. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked to prevent breakdowns and potential engine damage from freezing or overheating. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses should be checked at the same time.

Oil. Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. In extremely cold regions, switching to winter-grade oil, which has a lower viscosity and makes starting your vehicle easier, may be necessary.

Engine Performance. Get engine problems, like hard starts, stalling and rough idling, corrected early, since cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Windshield Wipers. Replace worn, streaking blades. If your winters are especially harsh, get rubber-clad (winter) blades. Carry extra windshield-washer solvent and a quality ice-scraper.

Battery. Can’t recall when you bought a new battery? A weak one is likely to fail in the winter. Have its charge checked at a good repair shop to be sure.

Tires. Balding tires are useless in winter’s snow and slush. Replace them with all-season tires, or snow tires if your region gets heavy snow. Check the air pressure of all tires including your spare.

Emergencies. Carry gloves, boots, blankets, a winter coat, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, a cell phone, and some non-perishable snacks.

Safety. Clear all snow and ice off your vehicle before driving. Keep headlights and taillights cleaned of snow and road grime for visibility — yours and the other drivers’.

ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers display the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and franchises. Visit www.ase.com for more seasonal car care tips.

Be Prepared When the Rubber Meets the Snow

<b>Be Prepared When the Rubber Meets the Snow</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Millions of motorists will be taking to the highways and byways for holiday travel, so the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) remind drivers to have their vehicle checked out before heading out. “Breakdowns in winter conditions can be especially dangerous,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE’s editorial director.

The following tips from ASE will help vehicle owners choose a good repair shop.

* Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one.

* Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations, and consult local consumer groups.

* 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 consultant or technicians willing to answer your questions.

* Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

* Ask if the repair facility specializes or if it usually handles your type of repair work.

* Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community, or customer service awards.

* Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work, and certification by ASE indicate the presence of professional, trained technicians.

* Look for the ASE sign. ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers display the blue and white ASE sign.

* Be ready to describe any changes in your vehicle’s handling or performance or other issues. Do not be embarrassed to ask for simple definitions for any technical terms you find unfamiliar.

* Reward good service with repeat business and customer loyalty.

Visit www.ase.com for more information, including seasonal car-care tips.

Tips for Cold Weather Driving

<b>Tips for Cold Weather Driving</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The experts at the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) remind motorists that getting their vehicles serviced for cold-weather driving should be high on their list of things to do during autumn’s milder weather. Breakdowns in winter storms can be deadly.

“Pay particular attention to engine performance problems such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling, or diminished power,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE’s editorial director. “Cold weather will make existing problems worse.” Other tips from ASE:

* Read your owner’s manual, and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.

* Replace dirty filters such as air, fuel and PCV. Change the oil and oil filter as specified in your manual.

* The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled.) A certified auto technician should check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses.

* The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment, but backyarders can perform routine care such as scraping corrosion from posts and cable connections. (Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.)

* Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

* Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line.

ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers display the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and franchises. Visit www.ase.com for more information.

Motorists Benefit From Certified Auto Technicians

<b>Motorists Benefit From Certified Auto Technicians</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Consumers are keeping their cars longer in these tough economic times, and that means scheduling maintenance and repairs. But how can drivers ensure quality work on their vehicles? Motorists can find professional auto technicians by looking for national standards and qualifications.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, better known as ASE, conducts the only industry-wide, national testing and certification program for automotive technicians. Unlike vocational licensing, which is often little more than a work permit automatically issued by a government entity for a fee, technician certification offers real meaning and value to technician, employer and consumer alike.

ASE certification is voluntary. Many technicians pay for the testing fees themselves. Even if the technician passes his or her test, certification is not automatic. Candidates must also show two years of relevant work experience.

ASE certification is not for life. Technicians must recertify every five years in order to be up-to-date. Those who pass all eight automobile tests become Master Auto Technicians. There are certification tracks for other specialties as well.

Employers often support their technicians’ efforts to earn this national credential by covering the cost of testing, offering pay incentives for ASE tests passed and advertising their certified technicians. Keeping ASE-certified technicians on staff demonstrates the owner’s pride in their shop — they likely prove meticulous in other aspects of the business as well.

ASE certification signifies competent auto technicians, taking the guesswork out of the search for a reputable repair shop.

ASE-certified technicians wear shoulder insignia; their employers often post their technicians’ credentials in the customer waiting area and display the blue and white ASE sign (“The Blue Seal”) on the premises. Certified technicians can be found at all types of repair facilities, from dealerships and independent garages to franchises and service stations. Shops with a high percentage of ASE-certified technicians are eligible to join ASE’s elite Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program. Visit www.ase.com for car care tips.