Updated: Mar 15, 2019
There are a lot of people who do not know a lot about cars, and they trust their local repair and service shop to maintain things for them. I have always been one of those people, though I've picked up a few things by working at the Doghouse. While we don't need to learn everything that Dicky knows about vehicles (and it would be hard to even try), he gave me five things that might be useful for you to know or understand about cars.
1. Decelerate - Brake - Roll
You've probably seen the people (or maybe you ARE one of those people) who accelerate from a stoplight just to slam their brakes on again at the next stoplight. What you might not know, is that those people are going to be coming to us for brake replacements a lot more frequently than they need to! If you simply let off the accelerator, gently apply the brake, and then let the vehicle roll as much as possible, you will greatly increase your brake life. There's really no hurry to rush up to a red light, anyhow. And it's easier on the transmission to not hold the brake pedal down
2. The Check Engine Light (CEL) Code is Only a Guide
We have a computer that can plug into your vehicle, and it will tell us what code is causing your check engine light to come on. What you may not know, is that this code only serves to guide us to the cure. It is not always as simple as it may seem to be. Oftentimes, we must take the codes it gives us (P0B99, P2100, P3499, etc.) and sit back on our computer and do research to find out what may be the most likely cause of the code. So "can you just plug it in and tell me what's wrong" takes a lot more time and effort than you might think.
3. Correct Oil Matters
You might think that thicker oil is better than thinner oil. You might think that thinner oil is better, because it helps fuel economy. You might believe that oil is oil, and all that's important is that you keep it clean and changed. The truth is, the manufacturer of the engine (and it's different for each vehicle) knows what kind of oil is necessary to keep the parts lubricated and the oil flowing freely. Using the wrong oil could at the least, reduce gas mileage and engine life, and at the worst cause oil to burn and eventually damage the engine. Your best bet - use the oil recommended in your owner's manual.
4. Cheap Parts are Cheap
It may seem like common sense, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there. We often tell people the price for a part and we hear "I can get it cheaper from -enter store name here-" We want to save our customers money, and we are all about shopping around for the best deal on parts, but the truth is, that when parts are significantly cheaper, there is probably a reason. Part of that reason is that the parts that we buy have a warranty that comes with them. Our suppliers will reimburse the labor costs if a part we install goes bad. We cannot offer a warranty on parts bought elsewhere, and even the cheaper parts we have access to will come with a shorter warranty period.
5. All Turbocharged Cars are NOT Race Cars
Turbocharged is not car talk for "run it as hard as you like." A lot of vehicle manufacturers are using turbos in everyday vehicles because they can create the same power while using less fuel. Yes - you are going to be able to get more torque and more horsepower, but if you are constantly "in boost" you are not going to get any fuel efficiency. Most vehicles have a turbocharged model (like the Ecoboost in a Ford) but an SUV with a turbo is not built to be a race car.
What did you think of this list? Did you learn anything new? Or do you have any other tips for a non-savvy driver? Let us know in the comments below (or on Facebook)!
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