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Should I Warm Up My Car in the Morning? Tempe AZ

Cold engine start 3-02-15Old dogs, new tricks. Or more accurately, the elimination of an old trick. Today I learned something new. I’ve owned a car of my own for over 40 years and nearly every day of that 40 years I’ve started my car and warmed it up for 5 minutes or so before I drove it away. Turns out that’s completely unnecessary and even a little counterproductive.

Back in the day, nearly all cars used carburetors. Very few cars were fuel injected and the cars that were used mechanical injection rather that the electronic injection we have now and relatively speaking, mechanical fuel injection stank. Driving a carbureted vehicle before it’s warmed up is a challenge. They’ll buck and snort and backfire until the engine gets close to its’ proper operating temperature then smooth out and behave themselves. Modern fuel injection eliminates that problem. The computer that controls your engine is able to adjust fuel flow to the engine so well that the old drivability issues just don’t exist. Additionally, sitting and warming your cars’ engine prolongs the time required for your catalytic converters to reach their optimal operating temperature. Plus, when your car is sitting at idle you’re getting zero miles per gallon.

You might say But! But! But! When your engine is cold all the parts haven’t yet expanded from heat yet so they’re not fitting together just as they should plus cold affects the metal in the engine and makes it brittle. OK, you have one valid point and one sort of myth. I didn’t say start the car and just mash the skinny peddle to the floor. Be a little gentle to begin with and let ‘er warm up while driving. As far as the cold causing the metal to become brittle, yeah, I suppose but we’re talking about the kind of cold that just doesn’t exist in Arizona.

So, start it up, drive it away and don’t worry about warming it up.
From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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Buying a private party used car in Tempe Arizona

Sturmovic Rusty Ivan 2-27-15Time to pick up a new ride, freshen up the wheels, replace that hole in the road you’ve been pouring money in to. But you’re not ready to buy a new rig just now, looking for a good deal in something used. A lot of folks just hate looking for and buying used cars but some people, me for example, love it! It’s not all that tough, though it can be time consuming, and can be a bit of fun. Here’s how to go about it:
The very first thing you have to do is figure out how much you’re going to spend. There’s no use checking out all the Porches out there if you’re working with a Miata budget. For that matter you don’t have to weed through all the rolling junk piles people have for sale if you have the ability to pick up something nice. If you have cash that’s great, but if you’ll need to finance, go get that arranged before you start shopping.

What is it you really need? OK, I want a WRX but I have two kids and a wife that like to go on camping trips. A coupe probably isn’t going to fill the bill. Or maybe I’m a single guy and I want the ladies to look my way when I drive by. A mini-van would probably be counter-productive to my aims. I thought about building a monster SUV that handled like a Corvette and got 40 miles to the gallon but the project got held up in development, something about physics not permitting this combination of features so the car never went into production. Until it does, think about what you actually do with your car.

You’ve got the kind of vehicle you need pretty much nailed down but everybody builds one. Mitsubishi, Ford, Suzuki, Chevrolet, Nissan, Dodge, Toyota and some obscure outfit out in the wilds of Siberia all make a model that sounds like what you need. Now it’s time to do your homework. You can’t (At least for now) fool the internet. There are reviews and tests of every car you can think of and a ton you’ve never heard of. Check out the models you’re interested in and see what other people thought about them. You’ll find that some will be trouble from the start, others pretty much OK and some will have stellar reviews. Guess which ones will be cheapest and which more expensive! Also guess which ones you’re most likely to love over the long term.

OK, you’ve pretty much decided on a Rusty Ivan diesel SUV from Sturmovic heavy iron works #3 in the Urals. Now you need to find one that’s in good shape at the price you decided to pay. There are a lot of good sources for used cars. I use Craigs List quite a bit but there’s also Ebay Motors, and others. I suggest you stay kinda close to home since you don’t want to drive 2 hours to check out a Rusty Ivan SUV that’s listed as a diesel only to find it’s an electric hybrid with a bad battery pack. While you can never be certain about the real condition of the vehicle you can get a pretty good idea how well the owner has taken care of it. Is it clean? Is the upholstery in good shape? Missing or broken knobs, handles, mirrors, trim pieces? If everything looks as though it’s been well cared for check the vehicle history via something like CarFax. That will at least let you know if it’s been in any major accidents, though you have to feel sorry for anyone who was unfortunate enough to have a collision with a Rusty Ivan SUV. Beware! Not all repair shops report to CarFax.

So far, it all checks out. Take it in to an independent shop to have it inspected. I’d suggest All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe due to their high degree of professionalism, not that I’m prejudice. A shop can get the vehicle on a lift to look for hidden damage. They can also provide you with a list of services the vehicle is due for, any that are upcoming and items that might need to be watched. You want the shop to be as objective and critical as they can. They won’t be able to see inside the engine or transmission but they’ll be able to at least get a feel for how well these are functioning.

Now it’s time to start negotiating a price with the owner. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS FIRST RULE: DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH THE CAR!!! If you just have to have this vehicle you may as well give the guy his asking price and drive away. Nobody lists a vehicle for the price he’s really willing to take, there’s always some wiggle room. Nitpick it a little but don’t be rude. If you did your homework you’ll know what people are asking for these cars and what they’re worth. A little conversation might help you find how badly he needs to be rid of it as well. I mean, who sells a perfectly good Rusty Ivan anyway? If the seller needs the money quickly you can use that to your advantage. It’s not being mean, it’s just business. You need a car, he needs money. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal isn’t right but be sure to leave your number in case there’s a change of heart.

Finally, close the deal. Shake hands and exchange title for money. I don’t know how they do it in other states but a signed and notarized title is all you need to give the MVD. Check the front of the title to see if there are any lien holders. That would mean that there is money owed against the vehicle and they need to sign off on the title as well. If this is the case don’t spend a lot of time hassling with it, go find another car. Title problems are a pain. Don’t ask me how I know.

OK, now it’s yours. Go play bumper tag on the freeway!

From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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Devils’ Highway/Coronado Trail Road Trip Tempe

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 11.21.32 AMHow about an article about one of my favorite road trips? At All Tune and Lube in Tempe I’m often surprised by the number of our customer who live here in the best of the United States but have never been outside of the major cities, sometimes not even out of the valley! Here’s a road trip that I really enjoy and I hope you’ll try.

Once upon a time there was a road called State Route 666, The Devils’ Highway. Spooky sounding , huh? Superstitious folks complained and the road signs were stolen faster than ADOT could replace them so the state finally gave up and in 1993 changed the road designation to US Route 191. The Coronado Trail is a road that runs along the eastern side of Arizona from Clifton to Eager. It’s listed as being 123 miles long but the best part of it is about 88 miles. Clifton is at an elevation of about 3500 feet and the road tops out at an elevation of something near 9,000 feet then drops down the north side of the mountains to Eager at an elevation of 7,000 feet. It’s a great road in a sports car or a sport bike but also just to cruise, just watch for folks cruising a bit more quickly than you are. With that much elevation change you can bet there are a number of changes in topography and a ton of turns! Turns! More than 525 of them! There are wide, flat sweepers, decreasing radius left handers, slightly off-camber turns, turns over crests and through slight depressions. The road sees very little traffic, the asphalt is in beautiful condition and the views are amazing. Of course I would advise anyone who travels this road to obey all traffic laws. : )

To get there you take Hwy 60 East to Globe then grab Hwy 70 East. Just past Safford you’ll turn north on Hwy 191 to Clifton. Outside of Clifton as you start heading up the mountain you’ll see the Morenci Mine on your right. As you get to a cut just past the overlook for the mine there is very often a small herd of bighorn sheep that hang out on the left side of the road. They don’t seem to be concerned about cars and people at all and it’s very cool indeed! As you continue uphill you get out of the typical high desert brush and cactus and start seeing more oak and sycamore then in to pines and aspen. Toward the top there’s an overlook to the west with views of the Mogollon Rim. The front side has most of the tighter turns, as you drop down the back side toward Alpine and Eager the turns loosen up a bit and tend to get flatter. Once you get to Alpine and the intersection of Hwy 180 most of the really fun driving is done but the scenery is still amazing. Stop in Alpine and get something to eat just because it’s a beautiful place to be.

To get back down to the valley just continue on Hwy 180 to Eager and Springerville and get on Hwy 60 west through Show low and Globe.

It’s a long day trip or a great two day run. Just do it!

From your local mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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P0128 Tempe Arizona

Check Engine LightA P0128 Coolant Temperature Below Thermostat Regulating Temperature code is something we see on a fairly regular basis here at All Tune and Lube Tempe. This and a P0125 is saying that your engines’ computer believes that the coolant isn’t getting up to the temperature required for your engine to run most efficiently within a certain time. As a result the computer will stay in “Open Loop”. This means that your car is running rich (too much fuel). That makes for poor fuel economy and performance and excessive vehicle emissions. Over time this could damage your catalytic converter and will wear your spark plugs out faster.

Usually this code means that you’ll need a new thermostat. That’s the device that regulates the coolant moving through your engine. If the thermostat is stuck slightly open then the engine isn’t able to warm up in the time the computer thinks it should.

I said “usually means” the thermostat but it could be a couple other things too. First check the coolant level. If there isn’t enough coolant in the engine then the engine coolant temperature sensor (ECT) can be in an air pocket and not getting proper readings. Next it could be a bad ECT. To check this item you need to have a scanner that can see the signal the ECT is sending to the computer. Sometimes the engines’ cooling fans are on all the time, keeping the coolant too cold. In some rare cases a P0128 can be caused by a bad gasket at the thermostat housing that’s allowing coolant to bypass the thermostat.

Whatever it is this code is typically simple to diagnose and not frighteningly expensive to repair. So bring it on in to All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance!

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P0420 Code Tempe Arizona

Here at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe customers commonly come in with a Check Engine Light (CEL or MIL Malfunction Indicator Light) and ask us what it means. Very often it’s nothing much, a bad or loose gas cap, maybe a thermostat but from time to time we’ll see the DREADED P0420 CATALYST EFFICIENCY BELOW THRESHOLD code. Oh No! OK, it can get pricey but it’s not necessarily your cat. Here’s the run-down.

A P0420 code is a trouble code on OBD-II equipped vehicles. If your car has multiple trouble codes (DTC’s), a mechanic is going to want to fix them in the order they come up on the code reader. For example, if you have these codes – P0300 (random misfire), P0420 (cat efficiency), P0171 (system lean), then we’ll want to tackle the P0300 Random Misfire code first, and then tackle the P0420 code and so on. The reason for that is that the first code could be causing further DTCs to be set.

So what’s a P0420 all about anyway? This code refers to a problem with the bank 1 cat and that’s all you’ll have if you have an inline 4, 5 or 6 cylinder engine. If you have a V6 or V8 or a Subaru you’ll also have a bank 2 cat but for the sake of simplicity we’ll just assume an inline engine. The catalyst system being referred to is your three-way catalytic converter; a device that looks a lot like a muffler in your exhaust system but performs an entirely different function. The cats’ function is to reduce pollutants coming from your engine. So the catalytic converter is not working properly, it’s not efficient.

A failing cat isn’t going to change the way your car feels, it’ll seem to run just fine. A P0420 code will cause no symptoms aside from the MIL. The reality is there’s still something wrong and your car needs attention in order to be in excellent running condition. A poorly maintained car will run less efficiently, burn more gas, and cost you more money in the long run. Plus, if your CEL is on for a P0420 code and you decide not to fix it, another more serious code could be triggered and you’d never know. The MIL lights up whether you have one code or ten!

There are a number of things that could be causing this P0420 code. The most common thing is the catalytic converter itself is no longer functioning properly. The other likely thing is the rear O2 (oxygen) sensor is no longer working properly. Other items could include exhaust leaks, damaged exhaust pipes or damaged O2 sensor wiring.

So our customer decides to have us diagnose the fault, what do we check? The first thing to do first is a visual check of things. Visually inspect the exhaust system for leaks, check the catalytic converter for dents, holes, severe discoloration, and check for a rattle inside. Then we’ll check for what should be a substantial increase in temperature from the front to the rear of the cat. If any of those symptoms are there, the converter likely needs replacement. If all that checks out, we’ll check the operation of the O2 sensor. To do that we plug in to your cars’ computer with a scan tool and check the wave form on the two oxygen sensors.

OK, the oxygen sensors are performing as they should and there are no exhaust leaks. Sorry, you’ll need a cat. Now, emissions related equipment on most vehicles has a longer warranty than the rest of the car so we’ll check with the dealer to see if the cat’s covered. If it’s not then the customer has a couple options: OEM direct replacement is the best, highest quality part made to fit your car but it’s expensive. Next is a high quality direct replacement aftermarket part. Those will save you some money and usually have a 5-year warranty. The last one we’ll suggest is a high quality weld-in cat. With those we have to cut your old cat out and weld the new unit in its’ place. These cats also typically come with a 5-year warranty. There are cheaper parts but we won’t install them.
Hope this helps!

From your local mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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Goin’ to do Ajax this Sunday! Tempe

Payette Draw 2-24-15Oh Yeah! The weather and work load has cooperated and this weekend your friends at All Tune and Lube Total Car CareTempe are going to escape to Florence and go wheelin’! Here’s a link to a YouTube video that shows what this little trail is like. These aren’t our trucks but you’ll get the idea anyway.

From your local mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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Original Equipment or Aftermarket Parts? Tempe

Car Engine_0From time to time our customers at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe will ask if we use aftermarket or original equipment manufacturer parts. The answer is that we use both because there are advantages and disadvantages, pluses and minuses to each. Here’s our reasoning:

An aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car’s maker. If the parts are direct replacement parts, they won’t affect your car’s warranty. A number of companies make parts designed to function the same, or in some cases even better than the original.

Aftermarket parts are typically less expensive, how much you save varies by brand. We shop around to find the best price and warranty. OEM parts usually have a 12-month 12,000 mile warranty while many aftermarket parts come with a lifetime warranty. In many cases quality can be equal to or greater than OEM. For example, when an automaker designs its brake pads, it has to strike a balance between cost, durability, noise levels and performance. If you want better performance and don’t mind some extra brake noise (some brake pads squeak even though they are stopping the car effectively), an aftermarket pad may be your best choice.

There are hundreds of companies that make aftermarket parts. Some specialize in specific parts, and other companies, like your corner parts store, have sources for almost any part you can think of. More variety means greater selection and a wider range of prices.

Out of all the parts suppliers in town, at least one is bound to have a part that fits the car we’re working on. This gives us more options on where to get repair parts. Very often the OEM part is no longer available or needs to be special ordered and that leads to delays.

On the downside, quality varies greatly. Over the years we’ve learned to sort out the bad apples and know where to source high quality parts. Even a part as simple as a spark plug can be made by dozens of different companies and comes in numerous variations. The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true here. Some aftermarket parts are inferior because of the use of lower-quality materials. We stick with aftermarket brands we’re familiar with, even if these parts cost a bit more.

OEM parts are made by the vehicle’s manufacturer. These match the parts that came with your vehicle when it rolled off the assembly line. If you go to the parts counter at a dealership and ask for any part, you’ll usually get one type. You don’t have to worry about assessing the quality of different brands and prices. The OEM part should work exactly as the one we are replacing. It is what the vehicle was manufactured with and provides peace of mind in its familiarity and performance.

OEM parts will usually cost more than an aftermarket part. That being said, dealers are now trying to compete with aftermarket part suppliers and the prices on some parts are coming down.

We purchase most of our OEM parts from a dealership. The dealerships often take longer to deliver parts than the aftermarket suppliers. You can request OEM parts, but it may take longer to get your vehicle repaired.

You pay the extra money for an OEM part, hoping that it’s better than an aftermarket part. But that may not always be the case. As mentioned earlier, some aftermarket parts are equal to or in some cases better than OEM parts. So you might be paying extra just for the name.

When Should You Request OEM Parts?

When it comes to collision repairs, make sure you are getting OEM parts, since aftermarket body panels may not fit properly or have proper crumple zones for crash safety.

Hope this helps! From your local mechanic, All Tune & Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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How to Spot a Dishonest Auto Repair Shop

Car DoctorWe’ve all heard lots of stories about dishonest auto repair shops. My customers here at All Tune and Lube Tempe have told me enough of them about other shops. It’s not too hard to understand since most people don’t know a lot about how their car works or what it takes to do the repairs. The good news is that the vast majority of independent auto repair shops are honest and want to provide their customers with value for their service. But there are crooks in every business. Here are some ways to protect yourself and spot the rotten apple.

Few dishonest businesses last long. Once word gets out that shady, shoddy or unnecessary work is being done that’s pretty much the end unless they have an outsized advertizing budget! If the shop has been in business for more than a couple years and is still busy you can bet they’re doing something right.

Check reviews! You can’t fool the internet.

Professionalism shows. Crooks aren’t proud of themselves, an honest businessman is. Is the shop and customer area clean and well ordered? Are they associated with the BBB or ASE?

Make sure the service writer explains to you in detail what the problem is and what it’s likely to take to make the repairs. Also, they should be pleased to take you to your car and show you what they’ve found. Ask for your old parts to make sure they were actually replaced. Get an estimate of repairs before the work starts.

You don’t have to pay for repairs you didn’t authorize. It’s not uncommon to find additional issues once the vehicle is on the rack that neither you or the technician were aware of at the start but there is no excuse for a shop to perform repairs you didn’t OK.

In Arizona it’s also not legal for an auto repair shop to hold your vehicle because it needs a repair. If any shop tells you that they can’t release your vehicle to you until some repair has been made they’re misinformed or trying to rob you.

Communication. An honest shop will be in touch with you throughout the repair process.

There really aren’t that many shady shops around but they do exist. Keep an eye on these few things and you should be fine.

From your local mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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Should You use a Dealer or Independent shop in Tempe AZ

Photo of the shop, 8-28-13Sooner or later every car owner will have to ask themselves if they should take their car in to the dealer or to an independent shop and it’s a question folks have asked us at All Tune & Lube Total Car Care. Both can repair your vehicle and do a good job at it but there are advantages and disadvantages to either.

So which is best for you, your car and your bank account? Here’s a look at the pros and the cons of dealer and independent repair shops. Independent repair shops are smaller and less expensive than dealer shops. And many get high marks for customer service.

“People are more satisfied with independent repair shops,” says Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook, which has been rating auto repair shops since 1976. “And they tend to be less expensive than dealers.”
Independent repair shops, like All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe Arizona rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and customer referrals for much of their business. So it’s no surprise that many independent garages place a high premium on customer service and satisfaction.

Because independent shops tend to be small, with maybe three to five technicians, you’ll get to know the owner and everyone that works there. You’ll be able to ask questions directly to the mechanic working on your car.
Because of lower prices, a small independent shop is a great place to go for basic maintenance and repairs not covered by a car’s warranty. At the dealership, everything costs more.

It’s a common misconception that you have to take your vehicle in to the dealership for regular services in order to maintain you r warranty. That’s simply not true. The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975 made it illegal for dealerships to deny warranty claims because normal service work was performed at an independent facility.

And don’t worry that a smaller garage won’t know how to fix your cars’ problem. Thanks to new software programs, today’s independent garages have nearly all the same technical and repair information as dealers.

Manufacturers publish technical service bulletins to assist technicians in diagnosing and repairing problems in cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles and a good independent will have that information.

Still, knowledge is one thing, skill is another. Make sure you choose a shop with ASE Certified technicians.ASE certification is done by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and in order to maintain their certification mechanics must pass comprehensive exams every five years.

While you r vehicle is under warranty you need to have the dealership do any warranty repairs. The dealership is able to recoup the costs of warranty repairs from the manufacturer. If you get the repair done any place else, you’ll have to foot the bill yourself. As good as the price and service may be at a small, independent garage, nothing beats getting a repair for free.

The biggest advantage of taking a car to a dealer shop is its tie to the auto manufacturer. If you have a beef with the service or a particular repair, you can always take it up with the auto manufacturer. Plus, many dealer mechanics receive factory-authorized instruction, so many of the mechanics at a dealership are likely to know their stuff.

As mentioned earlier, any repair covered by a new car warranty must be done at a dealer shop if you want it free.
One thing missing from a dealer shop is the personal touch. You hand your keys over to a service manager or service writer, not a technician or mechanic.

At a dealership you won’t often meet the mechanic working on your car. A large dealership could have 20-30 mechanics working on any given day. You could ask to talk to the tech working on your car but it will probably be a different person each time.

The other downside to taking your car into a dealer shop is the price. You tend to pay more for basic maintenance and repairs at a dealer shop. Once a new car warranty expires, there’s little tying you to a dealer shop.
You may want to compare dealer prices with a local independent garage. Tracking down a lower-priced and reliable independent garage could really trim your auto maintenance bills.

From your local mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete auto repair and maintenance in Tempe Arizona.

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Can I Use Cheap Gas in My Car? Tempe Arizona

gas stationCustomers have asked us at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe if there’s a difference in fuel between stations and if it’s alright to uses the cheap stuff in their vehicles. There’s a common belief among drivers that gas purchased at some gas stations isn’t the same quality as gas purchased from the big-name gas stations. We’ve even heard rumors in the past that say some gas stations dilute cheap gas with small amounts of water, affecting power and engine efficiency. Neither of these is true. In reality, all gas stations are governed by laws that cover the storage and pumping of gasoline, and independent and no-name gas stations usually buy gasoline from the well-known oil companies anyway. The difference? Cheaper gasoline doesn’t have as much of the additives designed to clean older engines. With today’s modern fuel-injection systems however, that shouldn’t make much difference. So go ahead, use the cheap stuff.

From your local mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.

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