RepairPal Blog: Tips & Tricks

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

Over the holiday break, I finally had enough time to do the little chores I’ve been putting off. My car was utterly filthy, and so cleaning it was on the top of the list. I generally use this one random brand of soap my father has in his garage, but this time I put my big boy shoes on and went to the store to purchase my own.  

I am a pretty sensitive person. I have allergies to animals and dust. My threshold for pain is low. I am the pickiest eater you will ever meet. My eyes can barely tolerate sunshine and a loud noise is enough to make me jump out of my seat. Because of this, you can understand why taking a trip to Denver over the holidays left me feeling a little apprehensive.

Let me assure you ladies and gentleman, this is America and we do have a choice when it comes to maintenance. If you look at your maintenance schedule—you know, that book buried underneath all of the junk in your glove box—you will know exactly what maintenance you need and when you need it. 

When you own a car, maintenance and insurance are requirements. Filling up with gas is also the nature of the beast. If you’re on the road a lot, and you cringe every time you have to fill up, I have some great money saving gas tips to help you out. Here are a few things you can do today to get better gas mileage right away. In real estate they say location, location, location. In auto repair, we say maintenance, maintenance, maintenance!

Summer is over—the kids are back at school, the summer clothes are up in the attic, and your vacation days are used up. Now, you’re ready to relax and chill out until the winter holidays get started. Surely there is nothing left for you to do until then … right? Not quite. This is the perfect time of year to start getting your vehicle ready for winter and the unique problems that cold weather brings. Breakdowns and starting issues can be much worse in lower temperatures, so make sure you are ready well before the first snow fall.

There are many wonderful things about living in San Francisco—diversity, good food, and the weather. And of course, there are drawbacks—rent that makes you want to cry, mainly. But one thing that is perpetually bothersome is parking on the street. Since I don’t have an extra $200 for a covered, secure parking space (see: rent), every day I take my chances with street parking.

There is very little people actually agree on these days, but it would be damn near impossible to find anybody who actually likes speed bumps. We wouldn't tolerate that kind of thing in any other area of our lives. Imagine surfing the Internet and coming across virtual bumps that thwarted your progress (well, maybe all of those unwanted, annoying ads serve that purpose). 

During my many years of working at a dealership service department, one trend I have observed is that whenever fuel prices go up, complaints about fuel economy also go up. The recent rise in fuel prices has also driven up sales of air filters, spark plugs, and routine maintenance. I must admit, OPEC is certainly getting more of my money these days. Twenty-two years ago, when my trusty Ford Ranger, affectionately named Betsy, was new, the fuel tank took less than 12 dollars to fill. Now, after a recent fill up, Betsy consumed 63 dollars worth—$63! My income has certainly not increased five times over the same period. The shock to my wallet makes me want to shriek.

Where I live, finding a parking spot is always an adventure. Sometimes I will find a spot right in front of my house—those are great days. Sometimes, like the other night when I got home at 11pm during a storm that no one was stupid to drive in except me, I will have a ten-minute walk straight uphill or downhill from the car to my house. But whether I score a sweet spot or one that feels like it's across town, the one thing I always have to contend with is parallel parking.

Over the past twenty years, I have worked with thousands of shop owners, so I know all too well what the bad, unethical shops do, as well as what the good guys do. If you want to make sure you are never ripped off by a repair shop, I can certainly help.  If you want to find the right repair shop, you need to ask the right questions. When you do, it is imperative not only to pay attention to the answers the service advisor or shop owner provides, but to pay careful attention to how they respond as well. If they seem unprepared or uncomfortable when you ask these questions, there is a good chance you are speaking to the wrong shop.