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How do I Get a Price for My Used Car? Tempe Arizona

NA Miata 3-26-15Gonna sell the old car and get a new one, maybe just hoof it for a while, I dunno, but the car’s good as gone. But how much do I ask for it? Ah yes, there’s a little art and a little science in answering that question.

For the purposes of this article we’re going to assume that the car needs no body work or major mechanical repair. That creates a whole new group of issues.

Go out and take a good long look at the beast. Is the paint any good? Interior and upholstery alright? Does everything work? Is it clean inside and out or does it have a years’ worth of road grime and smell like old socks? Clean it, make it pretty as you can. Get all the fluids changed and make sure everything works and that the brakes and tires are serviceable.

Now you have to determine is how much you’re going to ask for the car. Some articles suggest the Kelly Blue Book as a guide but I’m not so sure. The KBB gives you an idea of the average price is across the country but it doesn’t tell you what cars are bringing in your market. My favorite way to get a price is by checking the local classifieds and seeing what folks are asking for similar cars. Compare apples to apples. Check out cars of your model and year and in similar condition. Keep in mind that the price you see in the add is what the seller would like to get or their starting price, not what they’re actually getting. So say I have a 1992 Miata I want to get rid of. It has 160,000 miles, looks good and is in good mechanical condition. The Kelly price is $1600 but in the classifieds nobody’s asking less than $3500. If I put my Miata up for the Kelly price it’ll be sold in less than an hour but I will have cheated myself out of $1400, assuming that most sellers are getting about $500 less than what they’re asking.

So, comparing my car to the other similar cars in the classifieds I decide I need to have $3400 out of it. I’m going to price it at $4200 and plug it in to the classifieds. I’m willing to negotiate down to the price I need, but I may be able to get more.

It goes the other way too. I see that the car I have for sale is a bit rougher than the other cars being offered. In that case I obviously have to start with a lower price to attract offers. But it never hurts to set the price a bit too high to begin with, you can always go lower. It’s tougher to start low and go up.

In the next article I’m going to talk a little about negotiation, meeting buyers and closing the deal.

From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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What is a Turbo Charged Engine, Tempe Arizona

Turbo Charged Engine 3-20-15What is a turbo charged engine and how does it differ from any other engine? That’s a fair enough question. The short answer is that a turbo charged engine has a device attached that shoves additional air in to the combustion chambers in order to produce more power. This is called forced induction, something done by both turbo charged and super charged engines, the difference is in the way they do it.

This is why you want to pack more air in to the engine: You already know that in order for something to burn you need both fuel and oxygen, right? What do you suppose happens when you cram more fuel and more oxygen in? Yeah! More energy in the form of heat! So if you’re going to get more power (energy) out of a limited volume you have to make more heat. You can do it by making that fire happen more often but what if you can’t make the engine spin but so fast? The way you do it is by burning more fuel and that requires more oxygen. A turbo charger supplies the extra oxygen.

Turbos are a sweet simple in concept. There’s a fan (turbine) that’s spun by the exhaust flow connected by a shaft to another turbine that forces air through the intake and in to the cylinders of your engine. When you’re just cruisin’ around the turbine isn’t spinning all that fast so the effect is small, but when you get in to the throttle and the exhaust gasses start really flowing, the turbine can pack a bunch more air in and you’re off like a rocket!

Now the concept is simple but the implementation is hard. There are a ton of variables, a lot of heat and loads of engineering complexities involved with turbo charging and an article like this isn’t the place for all that, but hopefully you’ve gotten the gist of what it is and why it’s used.

This is where I plug our services! Turbos are unforgiving when it comes to maintenance! Fail to get your oil changes done on time or to use the correct oil can, no WILL! wipe out your engine in short order. So stay on top of maintenance and keep the power flowing.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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What is Car Diagnostics Tempe Arizona

Car DoctorI just had an extended conversation with a new customer about the diagnostic tests needed to locate the problem with his truck and get it repaired. He didn’t understand why the diagnostic tests were needed and why we would charge to locate the problem then charge for the repair too. I get it. Folks get confused about automotive diagnostics, especially when an auto parts store tells the customer they do Free diagnostics. “Can’t you just plug in your machine and have it tell you what’s broken?”

Like I’ve said in a couple other articles, your car is a complicated device. And it’s device full of computers. Most modern cars have as many as 50 microprocessors with a lot of high end cars having many more. When we’re doing diagnostics we’re dealing with one of those computers or a system monitored by one. Our scanner, the diagnostic machine, tells us what system is affected or what the monitoring computer believes is affected. Sometimes it takes us right to the issue, sometimes not so much.

What kind of systems are we talking about? Well, fuel metering systems, ignition systems, evaporative emissions control systems, transmission control systems, anti-lock and traction control systems, supplemental restraint (airbag) systems, climate control systems, even electric windows and power seats.

In this particular case the customer had come to us with the Check Engine Light on and we pulled a code indicating a fault with the idle air control motor (IAC) or circuit. When we opened the hood we found a new IAC already installed, it also had a new power train control module (PCM). The customer had been to the fore mentioned auto parts store and they had retrieved the same code we did, sold the customer a new IAC and sent him down the road. When he installed the new part it didn’t solve his problem so he brought it to us at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Turns out his original IAC had shorted, burning out the IAC control circuit on his PCM. New quality IAC and a fresh remanufactured PCM and the customer gets his car back without the problem.

I guess the bottom line is that if there’s a code in your cars’ computer for a random misfire don’t let an auto parts store tell you you need a tune up. You may well but it may also be something else. Have a professional diagnostic done and get the car repaired!

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Car Wont Start Tempe Arizona

broke down car 3-16-15So your car won’t start and you’re wondering what to do now. There really isn’t a simple answer but there are a couple of things you can check.

Often you’ll turn the key, the light on the dash come on as they should, you go to start the car, there’s a CLICK and then nothing. That’s usually a sign of poor battery connections. Lift the hood, take a look at the battery and if the terminals and if you see a bunch of fuzz, they’re dirty. Take them off, clean them with baking soda and a wire brush and I bet you’re back in business.

How about when the engine turns over very slowly then there’s a rapid clicking. That indicates a dead battery. Poor battery connection due to corrosion can cause this too so you may as well start by cleaning the terminals but it could also be a bad battery or alternator. After cleaning the terminals get the car jump started and bring it in to All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe and we’ll test the system.

Or the engine turns over normally but doesn’t fire. Usually that means the engine isn’t getting fuel or, less often, spark. About all you can do is insure that it has fuel in the tank. After that, get it to the shop.

Your car is a complicated device. The days when you could poke your head under the hood and give something a whack and have it running again are pretty much gone. If you run in to a situation where your car won’t start, after you’ve run through this list, call All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. We’ll get ‘er going for you!

From you Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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5 Things Every Driver Should Know

Happy Driver 3-16-15You know, all of us here at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe are car guys to one degree or another (Duh!) and we find ourselves surprised by the basic things people don’t know about their cars. So here’s a quick list of the items that you really should know:
How to check your vehicles fluids. We’re talking about the most basic checks. Engine oil level, coolant level, brake fluid and transmission fluid.

How to check your tire pressure. This is a safety issue. When your tire pressure is too low or too high your cars handling is adversely affected. Also incorrect tire pressure can wear your tires out prematurely. Don’t forget to check the spare!

When services are due. Most owners are pretty good about getting their engine oil changed but there are several other items that need regular service too. Transmission fluid, differential oil, coolant, brake fluid, serpentine belts, timing belts come immediately to mind as items that should be changed on a schedule.

What the Check Engine Light means. That check engine light indicates that there’s a problem with your car for sure. It may not be a serious issue but it could also be a sign of real trouble. It doesn’t cost anything to find out.

How to change a flat tire. This is cliché but so true. You need to know how to change a flat tire. It might be unpleasant but it beats the heck out of sitting on the sided of the road feeling sorry.

Your operators’ manual has all this information but if you’d like us to show you how, we’d be pleased.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Vehicle Safety Recalls, Tempe Arizona

Little Bitty Car 3-16-15If you’ve ever wondered if your car is subject to some sort of safety recall that you’re not aware of there’s now an easy way to find out. USDOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has n web site up that will clue you in to any recall repairs your car should have had but according to their records does not. The site is www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe has been running the VIN on every car that rolls through the shop for about a week now. Quick and painless and best of all Free! Well kinda free, you do pay for it with you taxes. Use it. It works!

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Get Your Car Ready For Summer Tempe Arizona

Desert sunset 3-10-15Hey! Spring begins next week! In the rest of the country that means that the permafrost will get soft enough to begin digging out from winter but here at All Tune and Lube Tempe it means time to get ready for summer in the desert. Piece ‘o cake! Your car doesn’t need all that much to make it through the heat, just a few checks.

The most important thing is to keep your car alive (An old Queen song I think) and if you’ve been keeping up on the regular maintenance there are just a few things to look at. Topmost, check your coolant level and condition. Well, duh! Without enough clean coolant running through the engine it’s Adios Good Friend real quick. The coolant should pretty clear and not rust colored. Coolants come in all kinds of colors now, green, yellow, orange, blue but not rust. Now the coolant isn’t 100% chemical, usually propylene or ethylene glycol, but a 50/50 mix. You can check the coolant mix with a device called a hygrometer. It’s a cheap tool but if you don’t have one you can drop by All Tune and Lube Tempe and we’ll check it for you, no charge. If it needs to be changed get it done before the heat gets here.

An automatic transmission deals with a ton of heat in the summer. Normally your transmission fluid temperature shouldn’t get above 230 degrees but if you’re working it hard, towing or hauling heavy loads, it can get hotter pretty quick. Make sure your transmission fluid and transmission cooling system are in good shape.

Check your tires. Your tires get hot in normal circumstances especially if they’re low on air. In the summer the heat in the road exacerbates the problem and a tire can delaminate.

Now it’s time to make sure you’re comfortable and that means air conditioning. That’s easy enough, turn it on and see if it works. If it doesn’t there’s a reason. Bring it in and we’ll check it out and make recommendations. Check the belt that drives the AC to make sure there are no cracks. If there are, replace it.

Simple Huh?

From your local mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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P0128 CEL Light Tempe Arizona

Thermostat 3-06-15Here we are at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care with another in our semi-informative series of discussions about CEL codes! Yeah!

Today we’ll be talking about one we see regularly, the P0128 Coolant Temperature Below Regulating Threshold. Doesn’t even sound scary does it? I mean, how can you worry about your engine running too cool? Heck, the problem is when your engine gets too hot isn’t it? Well, yeah, kinda. Overheating an engine is mechanical DEATH! But when an engine runs too cool it presents its’ own set of problems.

What this code is saying is that the computer that controls your engine (the PCM) believes that the coolant temperature isn’t reaching its’ proper level in the amount of time it should, or not getting to that range at all. When an engine is cold it needs a little extra fuel in order to run smoothly so the PCM adjust the fuel trims accordingly. When there is more fuel being supplied to the engine than it optimally needs we call that a rich condition or “running rich.” If your engine is running rich you lose fuel economy, increase exhaust emissions, wear or foul your spark plugs more quickly and accelerate wear of your CATALYTIC CONVERTER! It’s not uncommon for us to see a P0420 cat code within a few months of having repaired a P0128 fault if the cars’ owner let that P0128 go too long.

Usually this code indicates a thermostat that’s suck partially open, but not always. Remember I said that the PCM believes the coolant isn’t warm enough? It gets this information from a device called an Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor, or ECT for those of us who are hip and inside to the lingo. If the ECT is failing it could be sending incorrect information to your ECM like a dam lying liar. Sometimes, not often, it can be a problem with the Intake Air Temperature Sensor (IAT) since the PCM uses a comparison between the ECT and IAT readings. Also, rarely, the cooling fans could be staying on all the time preventing the engine from warming as it should. I’ve heard of instances where incorrect coolant or coolant mix has caused this code but I’ve never seen it.

So there you go. That’s what a P0128 is all about. Simple problem, usually simple fix.

From you Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Are Extended Warranties on Used Cars Worth It? Tempe

Signing a contract 3-05-15Are extended warranties (Service Contracts) worthwhile on a used car? At All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe we have to admit that we like it when a customer has a service contract on their vehicle. It makes getting the repair done right an easy decision for the customer. But from the customers’ perspective there are a few things to consider.

I guess the first thing to think about is that the company selling the extended warranty is there to make money and they’ve done their homework. If they’re selling a warranty to you for $2400 you know they’ve looked at the model of your car with the mileage it has and determined that it’s a good bet that it will need substantially less than $2400 worth of repairs over the life of your contract. What I mean by that is that if they’re selling a warranty to you for $2400 they don’t expect to have to pay that much out. That being said there have been a number of situations here at our shop where a major repair was required and the customer was very thankful for having purchased a warranty. The best thing you can do is set aside the money you would have spent on the service contract in the event you have a major break down, but if you can’t leave that much in an account, the peace of mind provided by the warranty might be worth it to you.

Your next consideration should be in regard to what the warranty covers. If you can get a good deal on a service contract the covers the really catastrophic failures, like an engine or transmission, but leaves many of the less expensive items uncovered, maybe that’s worth exploring. For example, a wheel bearing or a water pump might set you back $300-$500 but an engine could be $5000. If you can swing a $500 repair out of pocket but an engine would be out of the question maybe that kind of contract would be worth it to you. Keep in mind though that engines and transmission seldom fail on modern vehicles, water pumps and bearings are more common. Service contracts that cover the vehicle “Bumper to Bumper” are available but they’re more expensive. Once again, peace of mind.

If you decide to buy a service contract make sure it’s one that can be used anywhere rather than just at the dealership where you bought the car. You don’t want to be broke down in Odessa Texas with a warranty that’s only good in Tempe.

Also, while I don’t know this for a fact, it seems to me as though you want to buy the contract directly from the company that issues it. If they’re making money on the deal so is the dealership. At least that makes sense to me.

Lastly, research the warranty company you’re intending to buy the contract from. My experience in dealing with these companies has all been positive but horror stories abound.

Hope this helps!

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune & Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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What’s the Difference Between Cheap Tires and Expensive Tires, Tempe Arizona

Tires 3-05-15We don’t sell tires at All Tune & Lube Total Car Care Tempe but since we take care of our customers’ cars we sure see enough of them and get plenty of questions about them. The most often our customers voice concerns over the expense of new tires and the difference between the economy brands and the quality brands. Typically you get more than what you pay for. There isn’t enough time or space to take on performance tires so all we’re going to talk about here are the everyday tires you’re going to want on your commuter car. I think we all get the fact that you have to have something to keep your car on the road but if you’re looking to get the most out of your investment in the best combination of safety and longevity you’re going to want to tighten your belt and pay the bigger price. It’ll hurt at first but you’ll soon enough be bragging to your friends about the wise investment you made.

Here’s the skinny: Tires are the single most important safety feature on your car. They are the only thing that connects the car to the road, and life-saving technologies like antilock brakes and electronic stability control can’t do their job if the tires don’t have a good grip on the pavement. There are minimum standards required to legally sell a tire in the US but these only really make sure that they won’t blow up when you hit a pot hole. Cheap, poorly-designed tires can make for longer stopping distances and less control in an emergency maneuver. Plus a cheaper tire will never give you the ride quality or longevity that a more expensive tire will give you. More expensive tires balance better and wear more evenly and cheaper tires are hard to get the manufacturer to stand behind.

Now it’s possible to get a cheap tire with a high mileage rating but these tend to provide less grip than a quality tire with the same rating. Even so, while well-known name brands tend to provide a consistently higher level of quality there are lesser-known tire manufacturers that produce excellent products at lower prices but you gotta watch out. Quality control can be spotty, especially in Asian countries that begin with “C”. Recommendations from a tire dealer you trust and the good ol’ internet search are great ways to sort ‘em out.
It’s best to replace all four tires at once since new tires generally grip the road better than tires that have some miles on them, but if you must replace them in pairs, put the new tires on the back (regardless of whether the car is front or rear-wheel drive). This will help the car retain its stability and predictability in a panic swerve. (Older tires on the rear will make the car more likely to spin out.) NEVER replace a single tire — if a tire is damaged and cannot be repaired, replace it as well as its mate on the other side of the car.
Rotating the tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles will ensure that they wear at the same rate, allowing you to get the most return on your investment and ensure that all four tires will be ready for replacement at the same time.
Hope this helps!

From your local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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