Talking Tech

Good Communication Makes Auto Repair Easier

 

We know—an unexpected, budget-busting auto repair is stressful. In fact, one of the worst parts of our job is to confront drivers with bad news about their vehicles. And while we strive to explain necessary auto repairs as delicately and sensitively as possible, we understand you may still feel upset when we present you with a poor diagnosis. We believe—just like in any relationship—good communication is an excellent antidote for conflict. Here are some suggestions for talking tech, and getting the most from your auto repair experience.

 

Be specific when describing a problem with your vehicle. For example, “I’m hearing a high-pitched squeal between 50 and 60 miles an hour that seems to come from the left-rear wheel is much more helpful than, “The wheel is making funny noises.” Mention all your observations, even if you don’t know if they’re relevant.

 

Don’t self-diagnose. Targeting and accurately identifying problems in complex modern vehicles is a specialized skill best left to an auto repair technician, not Google. Automakers have established procedures to determine the cause of most vehicle issues, which must be followed before undertaking repairs.

 

Ask questions. If there are any terms, explanations, or charges you don’t understand, just ask. Don’t be shy—we’re here to help.

What to expect from us…

 

Good answers to all your questions. Our service writers are very knowledgeable and skilled at explaining vehicle issues and repairs. If you’d like to talk to the technician working on your car, we’ll introduce you. We want you to feel confident your vehicle is in good hands.

 

A written estimate. We’ll provide you with a written estimate itemizing everything we’re going to do to your car before work begins. And we’ll stick to that estimate unless you authorize changes.

 

Options and priorities for repairs. In many cases, some auto repairs need to be handled immediately while others can wait a certain amount of time. We’ll explain your “repair priorities,” so you can budget accordingly, and we’ll send you reminders so a minor (for now) issue doesn’t turn into a major problem.

 

Count on Aardvark Automotive to handle all your car care needs!

 

If you live in the Amarillo area, we hope you’ll call us here at Aardvark Automotive the next time you need auto repairs or maintenance. We’re an auto repair shop you can trust to do right by you and your car.

2017 New Year’s Resolutions for You & Your Car

We know, sometimes New Year’s Resolutions are tough to stick to, but these five simple car care routines are quick and easy to maintain. (We’d say easier than not eating carbs or sticking to a five-day-a-week exercise routine.) Consider these pointers (and general recommendations) to be just a few little reminders to do the basic things to keep your car running into 2018 and beyond! Think about it – you can still be a responsible adult and eat bread, but not so much if your insurance is expired or you can’t remember the last time you got an oil change.

  1. Wash or get your car washed regularly. This is one of those little things that falls to the side after a while. Keeping your car washed and clean can help maintain visibility and extend the life of your vehicle’s paint coat.
  1. Check the oil. Making sure you always have enough motor oil in the engine is a simple thing to check, and relatively cheap to maintain – much cheaper than auto repairs arising from oil neglect. Plain and simple, oil is a non-negotiable.
  1. Check your tires. Take just a couple extra minutes in the morning, and make sure your tires aren’t going flat on you, or suffering from any type of damage. Use the penny trick to check your tread – simply place a penny headfirst into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of dread depth remaining, which means you probably don’t need new tires.
  1. Stick to your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Yes, we know, you hear this all the time. Even still, we can’t stress enough how important regular maintenance, like oil changes, are to the life of your car and your engine.
  1. Keep your vehicle insurance up to date. Not only does valid car insurance provide you with worry-free driving for the year, it’s mandatory! Take a moment to make sure your proof of insurance is in your car and your necessary stickers are current.

If you stay on top of these five tasks for your car this year, the other road bumps you may encounter won’t be so bad. But for any issues you do run into, you can count on us to make things right. Make an appointment online or give us a call!

Sincerely,

Your Car Care Conscious

(aka Aardvark Automotive)

The Lone Star State’s Dream Destination for Auto & Truck Lovers… And It Only Happens Once a Year

The State Fair of Texas rolls around once a year, and this year, the massive event kicks off on Friday, September 30 in Dallas and runs through October 23. During the state fair, automakers with a full-size truck line often reveal a new model, introduce an entirely new truck, or present a special edition truck with a Lone Star state theme. While the technicians at Aardvark Automotive specialize in high-end import car repair, we are still Texans, and can’t help but get excited about the trucks featured at the state fair.

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Automakers bring their trucks to Texas because Texans buy more trucks than any other state in the country, as both work trucks and luxury vehicles. (Have you ever heard the term “Texas Cadillac”?) Which means even if you drive a Mercedes or Audi in Amarillo, we wouldn’t be surprised if you have some variety of pickup in your driveway as well. Plus, the State Fair of Texas is so big it hosts its own auto show, so what better place to introduce new trucks? But now you may be wondering, what other types of vehicles will be at the auto show?

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The Largest New Car Show in the Southwest

In fact, the State Fair of Texas Auto Show is the largest new car show in the Southwest, generally showcasing around 400 of the latest models from the world’s leading automobile manufacturers. Not only are the hottest new rides on display, there are also fun auto-related activities and live entertainment for the entire family. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the state fair and the auto show. In addition to an indoor setup spanning two buildings, 175,000 square feet of outdoor space, called the “Truck Zone” is devoted to the aforementioned truck exhibit.

Comprehensive Service for the Best Cars & Trucks on the Road Today!

Whether you drive a feat of German engineering or a Texas Cadillac (or both!), the mechanics at Aardvark Automotive can handle the repairs and maintenance you need for your vehicle. We can also answer any questions you have about purchasing a new car or truck. Give us a call today or contact us online to make an appointment!

Wheels to Prosper 2016 Winners Announced!!!

On Saturday, July 23, we announced the winners of our 2016 Wheels to Prosper Car Giveaway! This year, two vehicles were donated from the Amarillo community, and Channel 10 News was on hand to document the event. Thank you to everyone who participated and attended. We couldn’t do it without you!!!

 

wtp-winners-2016-KeshanaMeet Keshana, Winner of a Mercury Sable

Keshana Darling is the winner of the 1998 Mercury Sable! She is a sophomore in college, and she plans to pursue a career in engineering once she graduates. Last year, she was unable to join her family for the holidays because she didn’t have a car to drive home. This year, she’ll have her own wheels, and be able to get where she needs to go, whether for school, work, or family. Thank you Keshana for helping others, and being a valuable member of our community! We know you’ll do great things with your car and with your life.

 

wtp-winners-2016-LarissaMeet Larissa, Winner of a Ford Taurus Wagon

Larissa is a single mom with two boys, an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. Needless to say she has her hands full, and she’s is an EMT, who must always be ready to respond to those in need. Her goal is to advance in her career and become a paramedic, but doing all she needs and wants without a car was nearly impossible. Now she’ll be able to get herself and her boys where they need to go, and pursue her dreams for the future. Thank you Larissa for making a career out of helping others. You deserve a hand up!

Congrats to two very hardworking and deserving people!

 

More on Wheels to Prosper

For us at Aardvark Automotive, one of the highlights of every year is our Wheels to Prosper Car Giveaway in July. The program was started by a group of auto shop owners actively engaged in improving the reputation and quality of service in the auto repair industry. The concept is to use our skills (repairing and maintaining cars) to improve a deserving individual’s life. Our winners are nominated by their family members, friends, and peers because they selflessly help others even when they are in need themselves.

From selecting the right vehicle (or vehicles) for the giveaway to fine-tuning the condition to getting to know our nominees, Wheels to Prosper is always a humbling and extremely rewarding experience. If you’re interested in being involved in our next Wheels to Prosper giveaway, please give us a call or contact us online. We welcome any inquiries and contributions.

Don’t Sweat it this Summer… Take Care of Your A/C!

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It’s hot! In Amarillo, we’re expected to reach 100° this weekend, and it’s probably going to be in the 90s through all of August and possibly September, too. If your car’s A/C isn’t working, just admit it, you’re going to be miserable! But don’t worry—Aardvark Automotive can help. We’ll pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your air conditioning, and as you’ll see from this article, it could be a few different things. You want to make sure your cooling system gets the right fix to work properly, with the least cost and inconvenience for you.

Don’t Ignore Weak Airflow from Your A/C

One of the first signs of a compromised A/C system is weak airflow from your vents. The main causes of weak airflow are mold or mildew in the evaporator core, a loose hose, non-functioning ventilation fan, and worn out seals. Just having one these issues can not only cause weak airflow, it can lead to much more significant problems, so it’s best to have your air conditioning checked out before further damage occurs. With A/C, it’s literally cooler not to procrastinate.

When Your A/C Just Isn’t What It Used to Be…

Some vehicles have Driver Information Centers (DIC) to let you know how your car’s systems are faring, but many do not, so you may not realize your A/C is failing until it starts blowing less-than-cold air. The lack of crisp, cold air in your vehicle could be caused by:

  • Failed compressor or compressor clutch
  • Failed blower motor or blower motor resistor
  • Clogged expansion tube or refrigerant charging hose
  • Failed o-ring, seal, hose, or another A/C system component causing a Freon leak
  • Failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator
  • Vacuum leaks

If your car develops an A/C leak, letting it go for too long can spell major trouble for your cooling system. On the other hand, if you (or we) find the leak early, the repair you need will likely be small and much less expensive than if the leak has been affecting your air conditioning for a while. With long-time leaks, moisture will most likely enter your cooling system and damage vital and expensive parts.

When it’s this hot, don’t risk your comfort and safety with a poorly functioning A/C system. Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive, and we’ll make sure your air conditioning is in top condition!

Optimum Summer Car Care

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Summer’s almost here!

Summer is coming. While it’s arguably the most fun season of the year, with barbecues and pool parties aplenty, it is also one of the roughest seasons on your car. With summer temperatures in Amarillo running in the upper 80s to 90s, your car or truck will be subjected to a beating from hood to tires.

Extreme temperatures can fade and crack your paint and dashboard and overheat your battery and tires. And the cooling system gets put on very high demand, so it needs to be in excellent shape. When temps can reach up to 200° inside your vehicle, any malfunction that causes your car to break down can put your health and even your life in jeopardy.

The following simple measures are inexpensive and quick ways to make sure your car is ready to face summer.

Inspect and/or Swap Out Your Tires

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Change your tires if needed.

Remove winter tires as soon as winter is over. Winter tires are softer and wear out faster in normal – and especially hot – driving conditions, so replace them with summer tires if your performance car requires two different sets of tires throughout the year. If you have all-weather tires, you should be fine.

Whatever kind of tires you have, it is necessary to check if they’re inflated properly. Get out your tire-pressure gauge and see if they are inflated to manufacturer-recommended levels specified in your owner’s manual or on the door jamb. Underinflated tires can cause a blowout, while overinflated tires are at a higher risk for hydroplaning. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency up to 3%. Tip: check your tire pressure when your tires are cool and you haven’t driven yet. Hot weather makes the air inside tires expand.

Don’t forget to check tread depth! The easiest way is to place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32” of the tread remaining (legally, you need 2/32” or more of tread depth).

Important: Check the pressure of your spare – you never know when you might need it, and there’s no point in having a spare if it’s in unusable condition.

Change Your Oil and Filters

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Oil changes are essential to keep your car running optimally.

Since summer is road trip season, optimizing fuel economy will help you save money and maintain your engine’s longevity. Heavy driving and extreme temperatures mean you should look at how your oil is doing no matter what.

Oil and filter changes are the most important steps to making your engine last. Oil changes need to occur somewhere between every 3,000 and 7,500 miles, depending on your car’s make, model, and age. Reference your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change schedule.

If you have an older car, you may have to use a thinner oil in the winter (so oil flows more easily when it’s cold) and a thicker one in the summer (since the heat can thin out oil). Newer cars typically run on synthetic oil or oil suited for year-round use.

Get Your A/C in Shape

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The worst way to find out your A/C isn’t working is in the middle of traffic on a hot summer day. Prevent this horrific scene by checking if your A/C can generate and maintain temperatures 50° F lower than the outside temperature. If your air conditioning is not working up to par, the most likely cause is low levels of refrigerant, which could be due to a leak.

Since the air conditioning system is highly complex, if you have an air conditioning problem we recommend you take your car to 2nd-to-None Service, where we can diagnose and fix the problem.

Important: Was your car built before 1994? If so, we’ll need to check out your refrigerant and determine how to appropriately dispose of or recycle it. Older cars tend to need a recharge before summer starts.

Check Your Air Filter

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Dirty air filter? Change it!

Changing your air filter is an inexpensive way to maximize fuel efficiency. Because Albuquerque frequently gets dusty, air filters can get clogged quickly and may need to be changed more than the recommended service schedule of every 12,000 miles.

How do you know if your air filter needs to be replaced? Just take it out for a quick inspection. If it looks grimy then it has to go.

Keep that Battery Fresh

Just like us, batteries have a tendency to overheat in the summer. When temperatures run too hot, chemical reactions speed up, overcharging the battery. This shortens the battery’s lifespan.

Keep your battery running smoothly by detaching the battery cables and wiping off terminals. Secure all connections.

How Long Will My Car Battery Last?

shutterstock_62480023Nobody wants to be stranded with a dead car battery. You can avoid the aggravation and inconvenience by knowing the life of your car batter, and the circumstances that can affect its projected lifespan.

Typical car battery life expectancy is around three years, with higher quality batteries lasting up to five years. Sometimes batteries even last much longer. However, many common occurrences can potentially diminish battery life, and it’s important to be aware of these factors to know if your battery has been compromised.

Factors Affecting Battery Life

One factor affecting car battery life is long standing times, such as not driving your vehicle for a couple of weeks. High temperatures that accelerate corrosion and discharging your battery accidentally (i.e. leaving your lights on) can also contribute to the early retirement of your battery. Temperature extremes are bad, too. Batteries are more likely to die or go flat during very cold periods because it takes more effort to start the motor in low temperatures. (This means that by the time spring rolls around, your battery could be on its last legs.) At the other extreme, very hot weather will also lead to increased battery corrosion and degradation.

How to Extend Car Battery Lifeshutterstock_59384869

So we’ve gone over the bad… Now here are some tips for extending the life of your car battery:

  1. Wrap a heat barrier around your battery to protect it from extreme temperatures.
  2. Don’t add new electrolyte (acid) to your battery.
  3. Don’t disconnect battery cables while the engine is running.
  4. Don’t put off recharging your battery.
  5. Avoid making too many short trips, which don’t give your battery the opportunity to recharge fully.