Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help for the Auto Repair Challenged!

The CHECK ENGINE light – how man times has your car sent you that message? What does it mean? And what do you do about it?

What – you think I know? Silly reader. I don't know. But I know somebody (or some place) that does. The fact that it is located more miles away from me than I would care to drive but that it's also on the Internet makes it easy to get to. Houston Auto Repair is now my Repair Pal.

Before I go any further, let me explain to you what I know about cars: they provide transportation from point A to point B. I hate stereotypes, but I can't deny my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to cars and car repairs. I know NOTHING about cars.

In my defense, I've met guys who knew nothing about cars, too. Like the guy who told me that the problem with one of my cars was its Cadillac converter. And I thought, WOW, I didn't know it had that function. Silly guy. He was trying to impress me and even I knew he was talking about the catalytic converter. But that's it. I know my car has an engine, because I have had to replace those amazingly expensive parts not once, but TWICE. And I know about transmissions, because I have had to replace that extraordinarily expensive item once.

But let's go waaaay back to my first car. It blew. Completely. I was a teenager who knew less about cars then than I do now. And what did my father say? "When's the last time you put oil into it?"

"Oil? You have to put oil into it?" Apparently there are some things my father thought I was born knowing. The car maintenance gene, however, did not get transferred to me.

Having said that, I do know some things, and what I don't know, I usually depend on the experience of service techs to teach me when I take my car in for repairs and oil changes. Which makes me an easy target.

BUT I am smart, and I love to research, and, thanks to my love for research, I now have access to LOTS of technical support via my Repair Pal!

What's a Repair Pal, you want to know? Glad you asked.

When a repair tech tells me I need a tune up, I can consult my REPAIR PAL to get the information I need about what exactly is involved in a tune up.

And if I want ratings and reviews of cars made between 1990-2001 I can start by checking out this Acura Integra, where I can also read questions and answers about common problems and learn about which cars were recalled or issued TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins – and you thought I didn't know what that was).

I also know more about oil changes and filter changes. The Auto Repair Encyclopedia even lists the mileage at which you should check for scheduled maintenance, and in its "How To – Helpful Hints" section you can read about why your engine knocks or pings and why your brakes squeak.

Lots of recommendations and lots of questions answered. Ever wondered why your car leaks? Find information on how to recognize common and not so common leak problems. It even offers advice on how to replace your wiper blades.

Knowing what to say when I bring my car in for maintenance helps me look at least somewhat informed when it comes to auto repairs, so I can tell the technician what I THINK the problem is. And when the tech calls me over to show me what's under the hood, I can tell the difference between the oil receptacle and the place where the windshield washer fluid goes. This is a great resource for anybody who knows as little about cars as I do.

The next time you have to bring your auto in for repairs, don't allow unscrupulous repair techs to rip you off. Go to Houston Auto Repair first to educate yourself about YOUR car and to manage your maintenance ONLINE..

(Check Engine graphic above was borrowed from Houston Auto Repair's web site.)

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