RepairPal Blog:

 Tips & Tricks

Helpful car maintenance advice and useful tips on all things car-related

When I first got my car, I loved everything about it except for the automatic door locks. When I reached 9 mph, all of the doors would lock. I had to press the unlock button on the keyless remote three times to get the doors to unlock. When I shifted into “Park” and shut off the engine, the doors remained locked so all of my passengers would frantically pull on their door handles while I tried to find the unlock button on the driver’s side door. I began to worry. What if my car fell off the Golden Gate Bridge and I had to make a watery escape? Would I be able to unlock the doors in time for everyone to swim away? What if I was in an accident and the locked doors prevented me from exiting the vehicle? This “safety” feature was starting to me make feel … unsafe.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General, complaints about auto repairs consistently rank among the top ten grievances filed by consumers. In 2008, auto repair complaints ranked #6 on the list. One of the major reasons why? People think that repair shops are trying to sell them services they don't actually need and overcharging them for those services. Since the average person knows little about car repair, it easy to feel overwhelmed when talking to your mechanic, especially now that car manufacturing has become so sophisticated technology-wise. If it was hard to grasp what a head gasket is, it’s almost impossible to comprehend computerized systems.

According to AAA, 94 percent of Thanksgiving travelers are choosing the roads over the skies this year. While gasoline prices are still rather high, it’s still cheaper to drive once you factor in those extra baggage fees, taxes, and tacked-on costs that come with air travel. Also, by driving, chances are you will avoid the full body scanner and invasive pat-down you might receive at the airport.Whatever the reason, those of us who are driving to our turkey dinners should consider the following tips to ensure a safe passage and a timely arrival at our destinations.

I owed my best friend a phone call, so last night, I picked up the phone and gave him a ring. The minute he answered, I knew by the tin-can distant timbre of his voice that he was in his car. He is a salesman and is in his car a lot, so he was speaking to me hands-free, but it still makes me nervous. I would rather wait to talk until he gets home, but with his wife and two kids at home, he probably is less distracted talking to me while he was driving.Sure enough, as we neared the end of our conversation, he takes a wrong turn and starts laughing about it. “I can’t believe I took just went down the wrong street—and I live here!” I can believe it. Just because he isn’t holding a phone to his ear doesn’t mean he is paying full attention. But if you asked him, he wouldn’t say he was distracted while driving since he was hands-free. I beg to differ.

Buying a new car is stressful—Can you afford it? Is it the right car to buy? Are you getting the best price you can? Should you go for the upgrades? How much will maintenance be? It stresses me out to even buy a plane ticket, so the thought of purchasing a new car makes my stomach hurt. Back in the late 1990s, my best friend bought a new Honda Civic. It was a huge decision, especially considering we were right out of college. But she needed a car and Hondas are always reliable, right?

Yesterday, my partner’s sister came over with her daughter, who was born a few weeks ago. While they talked, I was watching Isabel, who was sleeping in her car seat. Of course, within five seconds of being under my care, she woke up and started to cry, so I thought picking her up and comforting her would be a good idea. I unbuckled the little seat belt, pulled the straps to the side, and reached in. And then I stopped.

For car owners, one of the biggest fears is that we will lock our keys inside our vehicle—in the middle of a desert, with no cell phone, no water, and a child or cute little puppy in the back seat. While a lockout can happen (though probably not in the middle of the desert with a cute puppy), there are things you can do to quickly and safely resolve the situation. Prevent a Lockout in the First Place

I’ve been driving on a spare ever since I retrieved my stolen van from a dilapidated tow yard months ago. The thieves apparently got a flat, put on the spare in the van, and didn’t have the decency to replace the flattened tire. Though my father taught me how to change a tire, that lesson was fifteen years ago. I did a little research and found five easy steps to get the job done. Just in case you get a flat (or run across some thieves as inconsiderate as mine), here’s what to do.Make sure you have a spare.

Have you been looking to upgrade your vehicle, but the current financial mess has you a little hesitant? Well, Kevin Purdy over at has put together a list of ten of their favorite tips to getting more out of your driving and ownership experience. Most of the DIY improvements are inexpensive and simple, so anyone can benefit from this helpful information. If you could experience the scarce parking in our area, you would appreciate #8 as much as I do! The tips for finding your parked vehicle are quite handy! And along the same topic, here is an iPhone App called G-Park that will help direct you to your parked car.