Confessions From the Auto Body Shop


jfkyfFor most consumers, auto body shops are intimidating and mysterious. The good ones restore your beloved car to gleaming perfection. The bad ones hide problems and stick you with a big repair bill.

We talked with three veterans of the auto body industry, two of whom (Brian and Neal) run their own collision repair businesses and the third expert (Andy) who is a well-connected industry observer. Our sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, shed light on this shadowy world and offer suggestions on how to manage costs, avoid rip-offs and ensure that sure your car is fixed right.

Know That Body Shops Run the Quality Gamut
“I don’t care what state you live in, for every 10 body shops, three of them are unethical and five of them do mediocre work at best,” Neal says.

It’s clear that finding the right shop and building a relationship with the owner or manager is an essential first step in the repair process. There will always be fly-by-night shops, and even mobile dent-repair guys working out of the trunks of their cars. Consumers should look for brick-and-mortar

How To Fix Your Cars Oxygen Sensor


ghkuyIf your car’s “Check Engine” light is glaring at you, it’s probably because the oxygen sensor is malfunctioning. That’s right, the oxygen sensor. It’s a little device that’s a mystery for most drivers but its misbehavior is the problem that most commonly triggers a Check Engine light, according to, which sells an automotive diagnostic tool and provides repair information. The oxygen sensor unseats the formerly most common Check Engine light culprit: a loose gas cap. There are fewer reports of that problem because savvy motorists have learned to fix it themselves and consumers now buy new cars with capless gas tanks.

But don’t despair. Replacing your car oxygen sensor will keep you from wasting money by burning extra gas, and the repair isn’t horribly expensive. We know this firsthand. We had to replace the O2 sensor on our 1996 Lexus ES 300, the subject of our Debt-Free Car project, and it wasn’t as much of a hassle or expense as we had feared.

After the dreaded Check Engine light appeared in our Lexus, we plugged the CarMD device into the car’s computer to read

Should You Fill Your Cars Tires With Nitrogen


hkugkA member of the Dodge Challenger owners’ forum was buying a new car from a dealer and noticed green valve-stem caps on all four tires. The salesman told him that the tires had been filled with nitrogen, which would keep the tire pressure and temperature more consistent and that it would prevent tire rot from the inside out. It wasn’t a free add-on, though. The “nitrogen upgrade” was a $69 item on the supplemental window sticker. Another forum member later posted that his dealer was charging $179 for this same “upgrade.”

Some dealerships and tire stores claim that filling your tires with nitrogen will save you money on gas while offering better performance than air. But a closer look reveals that nitrogen has few benefits and much higher costs. For starters, a typical nitrogen fill-up will cost you about $6 per tire.

Why Nitrogen?
The Get Nitrogen Institute Web site says that with nitrogen tire inflation, drivers will note improvements in a vehicle’s handling, fuel efficiency and tire life. All this is achieved through better tire-pressure retention, improved fuel economy and cooler-running tire temperatures, the

3 Types of Windshield Damage You Should Always Have Repaired Professionally

What is one of the most important safety aspects of a vehicle? Most people would say seat belts, air bags, and properly-working brakes, but few would think to mention the windshield. However, the windshield is actually a significant safety system of a vehicle. It protects the occupants from bad weather conditions, accidental impacts, and flying debris. Windshields are prone to chips, cracks and breakages, all of which can be dangerous, particularly if they occur while you are driving in difficult weather conditions or at high speeds. While some minor damage can be fixed with commercial products, there are several types of windshield damage you should always have repaired professionally.

Bull’s Eye Crack

A bull’s eye crack is a circular crack that is usually caused by a large or heavy object, such as a rock, large stone or other projectile, hitting the windshield. Bull’s eye cracks can be extremely dangerous, as the glass surrounding the crack will be weakened and fragile, leaving your windshield vulnerable to minor impacts. The smallest impact from flying debris or a minor bump with another vehicle can turn a bull’s eye crack into a large and dangerous crack that could reduce

Reasons Why You Need A Fuel Monitoring Device

It seems that fluctuations in oil price have become an unspoken truth today. Even the intermittent drop in oil prices all over the world does not bring the hope that it will really lead to considerable saving of domestic consumers like us. Rather, every moment of increment in oil prices intimidates because we fear that it might lead to inflation.

Now, when oil price becomes the major determiner of our mood today, we cannot simply overlook the fact that fuel theft is live a tight slap on our face. Therefore, it is essential to install fuel monitoring device in our domestic vehicles and fleets in order to prevent this. You can get few more merits after installing this device. Here are they:

Better fuel usage audit

Since it is your hard earned money, you deserve to know how much fuel is actually getting used and how much is being wasted. The monitoring device that you install in your vehicle serves as your ready source for providing all the information regarding the time when you fuelled the oil tank, the fuel that has been used, and the mileage that has been covered by the car. Eventually, you get a clear picture in your hand

Can airbags kill you

The whole premise of an airbag just sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of colliding with your car’s steering wheel, dashboard or door, you get cushioned by a pillow of air. While airbags aren’t exactly as cuddly-soft as a bear in a toilet paper commercial, making contact with one sure beats making contact with a steel panel. Since 1998, front driver and passenger airbags have been required equipment in all cars and trucks sold in the United States. Between 1987 and 2008, it’s estimated that frontal airbags saved more than 25,000 lives in the U.S., making them one of the great achievements in automotive safety technology history [source: NHTSA]. Now there are cars with 10 airbags, and some car companies have even incorporated airbag technology into their seatbelts [source: Consumer Reports]. But could airbags actually end up hurting or killing the people they’re supposed to protect?

Anyone who’s been in an accident in which the airbag has deployed can tell you that the event is extremely violent. It has to be: Airbags need to get in front of the person they’re protecting and fully inflate before that person makes contact with something more harmful than the airbag itself.

Pre Winter Maintenance for European and Import Cars

Your European or British vehicle puts the “import” in important when it comes to import auto maintenance and service. Without routine maintenance for your import vehicle, you risk damaging several components, minimizing its performance capacity, and its decreasing lifespan. Not only is this a costly negligence, it is a dangerous one as well. A poorly maintained import car is a safety hazard to its driver and other drivers on the road. It is also a wallet-drainer.

Import auto maintenance is vitally important for these reasons and more. And if you are like most European car owners, you are passionate about your make and model vehicle and willing to do whatever it takes to keep it in excellent condition. One part of this is pre-winter maintenance. Now that the warm weather is behind us, it is the right time to have your import vehicle serviced before the winter climate and precipitation sets in. Continue reading to learn some tips regarding import auto pre-winter maintenance so that you may get started before the snow is here!

Import Auto Maintenance

Filters are the first place to start. After a summer stint, the filters in your vehicle needs to be cleaned or replaced. This includes air filters,

Glass like coatings for automotive parts combine protection with beautiful color

Today’s car enthusiasts have a diverse range of requirements: popular issues that concern them include safety in the vehicle, a good driving experience, a powerful engine and sophisticated technology. If drivers want to make an impression with their vehicle, decorative elements such as coloured wheel rims, brake calipers, exhausts, footboards or bodywork and engine components are increasingly being added. In an ideal scenario, it is possible to combine decorative coatings with protection from corrosion and wear. INM — Leibniz Institute for New Materials will be presenting such coatings at this year’s IAA International Motor Show.

The coatings have glassy and glass-ceramic properties. They therefore reduce the level of corrosion and wear, susceptibility to scratching or tarnishing and other processes of oxidation on surfaces. To complement these protective properties, depending on the choice of colour pigments, the INM production method can be used to produce the colours of red, black, green, white and blue for decorative purposes with stability at high temperatures. These functional coatings are suitable for metallic substrates such as steel, aluminium or alloys or as a protective layer for glassy components.

“In addition to the properties which have been mentioned, our

Is Your Auto Service Provider Worthy

If you have just purchased a car and don’t want to take the risk of moving it anywhere, you can call in professional moving services. The internet is a reliable source where you can find many providers, and you can also learn about the deals that they provide. Over the years, since the demand for shippers has increased, you may find it difficult in choosing the right one for your car.

If it is your first time at hiring auto transport service, then you may not have a clear concept of what a good service provider should be like. Different companies have different services, and you will find no match between them. In order to make your selection easy, shared here are some of the criteria which when and if fulfilled will help you narrow down your list.

The first thing that you should check in a company is whether they are licensed and insured or not. At the same time, you should also learn where they have attained their license from and whether it is legally correct or not. Insured company will give you the peace of mind that in case of any damages, if anything goes wrong, they will stand

Toyota RAV4 Is Getting Old And Outdated

Toyota RAV4 was first introduced in 1994 and was the first in the compact SUV market. It had a car like drive and a “tough street” look, that caught on. Many competitors followed Toyota to get their share of the market. The next generation was launched in 2000 and the latest in 2006. Though RAV4 is a very good car, but still it fades into the background. Perhaps it is its age or may be it doesn’t have all of the features to offer like the rivals such as Land Rover Freelander, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail.

It’s weird that the third generation RAV4 lacks the sporty looks of its predecessor. It has an uninspiring design as compared to its direct rivals like Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail. RAV4 still supports the side hinged back door which feels so out dated as compared to top hinged tailgate. Having said that, the RAV4 makes up for what it lacks with its logically laid out interior. The materials and plastics used are of high quality. The driving position is quite high giving a good all round view.


The RAV4 might not be exciting but it

Tips for Treating Your Beloved Car

In this modern era, many people have so many activities to do in their daily life. They have to meet someone at one place and they have to attend a certain kind of meeting in the different place after that. We can say that many people are so busy with their daily activities and they have to do that for the urgency of their job. It means that there are many people who have the high mobility nowadays and maybe we become one of them.

Since we need to move from one place to another place, it means that we have to provide the best vehicles that will help us to move from one place to another place easier. We will have the best time for the mobility and we do not need to be worried to be late on the meeting that we have to attend. One of the examples of the vehicles that we can use is the car. We know that by having a car, we can go to anywhere that we want to go and for any kinds of purposes. We do not need to catch the bus if we have the car.

Attractive LED For Car to lead the way

LED bulbs are the latest innovation in lighting solutions. The full form of LED is “Light Emitting Diodes”. The in candescent bulbs, halogen bulbs etc. are fast becoming a thing of the past. CFL’s and LED’s are ruling the roost. And amongst these two the LED is the clear winner.

The automotive industry too is showing a distinct inclination for LED lights and Car LED bulbs are becoming the preferred choice. And this is not just because LED’s are more amenable to design requirements. In fact in automotive design the ‘look’ is the numerouno factor. The sleek, feline look of a Jaguar is a case in point. The design of the headlights and taillights add to the crouching feel of a big cat.

The Car LED bulbs also have the whitest light and are in fact whiter than daylight. Yet they have a ‘cool’ feel and do not hurt the eye. They give better reflection from road signs as they provide a large pattern of light on the road, instead of illuminating only the sides of a road or casting a pool of light only directly in front. The LED light is directional rather than diffuse

Basics Of Maintaining An Aircraft

Do you own a private aircraft? Whether you are an individual who owns an Airplane for luxury and passion or a company who owns an Airplane for commercial use, it is essential to ensure that you need to invest in maintaining your Airplane from time to time if you want to use it when you need it. An airplane is a complicated vehicle and you need professional assistance to make sure it is serviced thoroughly to ensure that all the parts of the aircraft are in the perfect condition and the aircraft is operated.

Maintaining the airframe: The airframe is the basic mechanical structure of the aircraft and composed of the basic parts such as wings, undercarriage and fuselage. Thus, these parts are focused in airframe maintenance and it doesn’t deal with the propulsion system or the engine of the Airplane. In airframe work, various aspects such as preventing and controlling corrosion, aircraft paint, landing gear, winglets, etc., are inspected and replaced if necessary. On this kind of maintenance, letter checks are also taken care off. During these checks the aircraft is inspected thoroughly once it crosses a specific number of miles. This comprises of cosmetic A and B checks, then

Functional Bike Storage Solutions For Bikes Optimal Safety

Current Trends Of Biking Is Emerging In Australia

Well, biking is an innovative, excellent and a healthy mode of transportation in Australia. That’s the main reason why Australians love to cycleto work. But when it comes to cycling, you should consider an efficient bike storage system for your bike’s rescue. In fact, bike parking has become one of the necessary features of many urban streetscapes and important building complexes. For a business organization, providing protected bike storage systems can help you encourage to support an improved level of health, satisfaction as well as the productivity. In fact, a convenient and easy accessible parking solutions can be the best way for the retails attract more number of people to ensure the overall well-being of acommunity.

But before choosing a style of bike storage, it’s very essential for any individual to have a good sense of its intended location.

Top Places To Choose For Installing Bicycle Parking Racks

However, visibility and accessibility are the topmost priorities that you should consider when choosing a location for bicycle parking rack’s installation. Thus, parking must be in a visible location or in a building destination. This will make sure

Finding A Quality Auto Repair Shop

New to your town or city? Looking for a good auto repair shop?

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that tests and certifies the competence of individual automotive repair technicians, knows a thing or two about selecting a vehicle repair facility.

Whether you are new in town or you are just looking for a new shop, the experts at ASE offer some guidelines to help take some of the anxiety out of your search:

  • Look for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed.
  • Ask friends, co-workers and associates for recommendations.
  • Consult local consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and chambers of commerce, about the reputation of the shop. Inquire about the number, nature and resolution of complaints.
  • Search online for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page if one is available. You can learn a lot about a business and its team by reading social media.
  • Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You likely won’t find hospital-clean conditions, but consider whether

How To Prep Your Car for Long Term Storage

There are a number of times when people need to store a vehicle for an extended period of time. Maybe you have a convertible that you love to drive in the summer, but winter is on the way. Or perhaps you’re going to leave town for a job or an extended vacation. Maybe you are in the military and are being deployed overseas.

Whatever the reason for your time away from the vehicle, you’ll need to put it in storage. If you simply let your vehicle sit on the street or in a garage for an extended period of time, you may return to a dead battery or — worse yet — a damaged engine, ruined tires and a rat’s nest under your hood.

Here are important steps to take before you store a vehicle. They will preserve the life of the engine and ensure that your car starts when you return to it.

Keep It Covered
A garage is the ideal place to store a vehicle. This will protect it from the elements and keep it at a temperature that’s relatively stable. If you don’t have a garage and you can find accommodation at

Gas Saving Tips for Your Auto

While it is always wise to conserve natural resources, the recent price of gasoline has made even the most wasteful people think twice. Whatever your motivation, here are some gas saving tips from the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Monitor tires. Under inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder. (Let the tires cool down before checking the air pressure.) Out-of-line wheels, as evidenced by uneven tread wear, should be aligned by a professional.

Remove excess weight. Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. Store only essentials in the trunk. Less weight means better mileage.

Consolidate trips and errands. Some trips may be unnecessary. Also, try to travel when traffic is light so you can avoid stop-and-go conditions.

Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family.

Observe speed limits. Speeding decreases your miles per gallon.

Drive gently. Sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Anticipate traffic patterns ahead and adjust your speed gradually.

Use windows and air conditioning wisely. Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds, since

Protect Your Auto Investment

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be an ASE-certified automotive technician, consider this: In the span of one career, automotive engine technology alone has advanced from purely mechanical devices that need periodic adjustments to sophisticated, computer-controlled systems that can actually compensate for normal wear.

The same can be said for virtually every major system on today’s vehicles, from brakes to transmissions. And the technicians who service and maintain our vehicle fleet have had to learn it all. In fact, to be an ASE-certified automotive technician today is to commit to a lifetime of training just to keep abreast of changing technology.

Maintenance more necessary than ever before
Modern vehicles are wonders of engineering. In just the past decade, maintenance intervals for things like spark plugs, emissions and cooling systems have been stretched out to 100,000 miles in some vehicles.

But the need for periodic maintenance hasn’t changed. In fact, given the longer life expectancy of today’s vehicles, the need for periodic maintenance has never been greater if you expect to get the most from what has become the second biggest investment most individuals will ever make.

To protect this investment and to

Dont Let Car Troubles Ruin Your Holiday Travels

As the holidays approach, motorists should make certain their vehicle is up to the rigors of winter travel. Autumn has traditionally been a busy time for carcare activities. Whether you do your own maintenance or depend on the pros, fall service let’s you undo the wear and tear of summer’s tough conditions while getting ready for colder weather ahead.

The following tips from the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) should give you a road map to fall car care. According to officials at ASE, “Cold weather will only make existing problems worse. A breakdown, while never pleasant, can be deadly in the winter.”

First things first

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

Engine Performance

Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters air, fuel, PCV, etc.


Put a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture

VW Jetta designed in Mexico

In its quest for world domination — which was its ambition until the scandal broke two weeks ago — Volkswagen Group had to think like Walmart and take costs out of the next-generation Jetta to give it a seductively low sticker price.

So while every all-new-for-2011 Jetta originated in the same low-cost Mexican plant, the cars earmarked for North American consumption were significantly de-contented compared to those bound for Europe.

American Jettas got a simpler, cheaper torsion-beam rear suspension in place of the European-market multi-link rear axle, and they made do with traditional hydraulic steering, while European drivers got more expensive electrically assisted steering gear.

The North American base model also used inexpensive hard plastics inside, simpler instrumentation and a four-cylinder engine that carbon-dated back to the Nixon administration.


The sixth-generation Jetta was primarily designed by Volkswagen Mexico under the supervision of the German headquarters. Unlike previous generations that resembled a Golf/Rabbit with a trunk grafted on, the new Jetta was cast significantly larger with a cohesive profile

Springtime Auto Tips

Spring is one of the prime times for auto maintenance. That first wash-n-wax on a warm Saturday afternoon is liberating. Winter’s gloom (to say nothing of grit and road salt) is literally washed away. Take out the snow shovel, the gloves, and heavy boots and store them ’til next season. Surely summer can’t be far away.

Some preparation now will help ensure that your summer driving plans go as smoothly as you envision then now. ASE offer the following tips on getting your vehicle ready for summer.

  • Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules.
  • Have hard starts, rough idling, stalling, etc. corrected before hot weather sets in.
  • Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according to the service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically.
  • If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for repair facilities that employ ASE-certified automotive technicians.
  • The tightness and condition of belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a qualified auto technician.
  • Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced by a qualified technician to reduce the likelihood of more costly repairs.
  • Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner’s manual. (Properly dispose of used

Do You Really Need to Change the Transmission Fluid

Yes, though how often this service should be performed varies by manufacturer and vehicle, and it’s open to debate.

The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for many automatic transmissions doesn’t call for fresh fluid until 100,000 miles or, with some Ford transmissions, even 150,000 miles. A lot of mechanics say that is too long and it should be done at least every 50,000 miles. Manual transmissions may be on a different schedule, so it’s best to consult the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual.

Like other vital automotive fluids, transmission fluid deteriorates over time. Hard use – such as frequent stop-and-go city driving, hauling heavy loads, trailer towing – will accelerate the deterioration. That kind of driving raises the operating temperature of the transmission, and heat puts more strain on the transmission and the fluid, which helps facilitate gear shifts, cools the transmission and lubricates moving parts.

If you do a lot of driving under high-stress conditions, you should check the transmission level more often and have a repair shop check the condition of the fluid. Transmission fluid often is red but can come in other colors, and as it deteriorates it tends to turn darker. It