True or False? You must go to a dealer for service if your car is still under warranty.

New car owners often assume auto maintenance performed at an independent auto repair shop will void their vehicle warranty. But do cars under warranty require auto maintenance at the dealer? After all, many people have a local mechanic they’ve trusted for years, and who wants to upgrade their vehicle only to downgrade on customer service? The fact is you don’t have to—you can have your car serviced wherever you like without jeopardizing your new vehicle warranty. The law protects your right to choose where you want to get your car serviced.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Protects Your Right to Choose Where You Get Your Car Serviced

A federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows car owners to service their vehicles at an independent auto repair shop, and neither the dealership nor the auto manufacturer can void your warranty because you had a repair or tune-up performed at a third-party servicer. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also prohibits vehicle manufacturers from voiding a warranty because the owner used recycled, refurbished, or aftermarket parts. In most cases—not because we recommend it, but to show the intent of the law—you can do maintenance work yourself without invalidating your warranty.

However, while you’re protected by law to choose your auto service provider, you should always keep records of all servicing from an independent auto shop. If you file a warranty claim, the manufacturer may ask for proof of servicing, and your receipts show that servicing was done by a reputable provider and in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Also, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act does not apply in absolutely every instance. For example, vehicle manufacturers can nullify warranties due to some specific cosmetic changes.

Is your car still under warranty? Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive for maintenance and repairs, maintain your warranty, and enjoy exceptional customer service!

A lot of the information you find online about auto maintenance is incorrect. Please ask us if you have questions about your vehicle’s warranty and your options for handling auto repairs and maintenance. We always give honest car care advice because one of our goals is to help customers make smart, informed decisions to get the most from their vehicles. And if your car is still under warranty, don’t fret about having to go to a dealer for service. You have options, and the right to choose what’s best for your needs.

 

 

 

 

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More Power to You — Common Reasons a Car Battery Won’t Hold a Charge

Most drivers have had to use jumper cables (or enlist the help of someone else’s jumper cables) at one point or another because their car failed to start. Perhaps you left the headlights on, or an interior light, or maybe your battery simply reached the end of its lifespan. But, in some cases, when a car battery charge won’t hold, the battery itself may not be the problem. The issue may be a bigger, more complex malfunction that requires a professional diagnosis by an experienced auto repair technician.

Repeat dead battery? We can help with that

Sometimes, a repeat dead battery requires the straightforward solution of simply getting a new battery for your vehicle. Generally, if the battery is more than four years old, or if it appears corroded and worn out, it’s safe to say age or battery corrosion is, in fact, your problem, and car battery replacement is your obvious solution. Another way to determine if you have a bad battery is by testing your headlights. If they appear dimmer than normal, or don’t come on at all, then a nearly-expired battery is most likely the cause.

Other times, a faulty alternator may be preventing your battery from holding a charge. If you come to us with a charging or starting issue, we’ll check the alternator cables for signs of fraying or cracking. If the engine stalls not long after jumpstarting your car, that’s another indication you have an alternator issue. We’ll also check your starter because a malfunctioning starter can also cause your battery to lose its charge.

We advise bringing your vehicle in for maintenance if it fails to start, as replacing the battery when the alternator or starter is the root cause of your charging issue will only lead to future troubles and unnecessary headaches—and the reverse is also true. In addition, we’d like to point out that battery, charging, and/or starting-related problems happen just as often in the spring and summer as they do in the winter. So, don’t ignore your battery as the temperatures rise because a dead battery isn’t a season-specific issue.

Call Aardvark When Your Car Won’t Start!

As part of a routine spring check-up at Aardvark Automotive, our technicians will examine the health of your battery, and we’ll let you know if your battery or any other vehicle component is near the end of its life. Because it goes without saying (but we can’t help ourselves), the last thing anybody wants is a car that won’t start, or a spring breakdown.

Slow Down for Speed Bumps— Not Only for Safety, But Also to Avoid Damaging Your Car

We know, sometimes speed bumps can seem like a nuisance when you’re driving along at a reasonable pace, and there’s no apparent reason to suddenly slow down. However, failing to put on the brakes for a speed bump is not only irresponsible, it puts tremendous wear on your car. So, next time you’re tempted to zip right over a speed bump, consider the following damage you may be doing to your vehicle, and the expensive auto repairs such damage may require down the road.

Ways Speeding Over Speed Bumps Can Harm Your Vehicle

The four components/parts of your car that are most likely to be damaged by speed bumps are your shocks, steering, exhaust system, and tires. Here’s how…

  • Shocks – Your vehicle’s shocks are responsible for absorbing unevenness in the road, such as potholes and rocks but also speed bumps. However, your shocks may not be able to absorb all the impact of a sudden bump or dip at high speeds, causing your shocks to bend and shatter and leaving your car with less protection.
  • Steering – If your shocks are compromised and ineffective, your vehicle’s other components and systems become vulnerable—particularly, your steering. Once your steering is susceptible to vibrations, a leak in the power steering reservoir may develop, your steering rack mounts may be damaged, and/or your wheels may be thrown out of alignment.
  • Exhaust – Your exhaust system is located right underneath your car. When you drive faster than you should over a speed bump, your vehicle may launch off the road, and when you land, your exhaust system can strike the pavement, hard, causing serious damage.
  • Tires – When your vehicle lands with force after hitting a speed bump, the impact can cause your tire’s sidewall to contact the pavement. Because the sidewall is much thinner than the tread, your tires will wear prematurely as the result of weakening the sidewall.

Call Aardvark Automotive for Help with Shocks, Steering, Exhaust & Tires

At Aardvark Automotive, our auto repair technicians are skilled at identifying and fixing issues involving shocks, steering, exhaust, and tires—no matter how they are caused. However, we hope after reading this article, your auto repairs won’t be necessitated by driving too fast over speed bumps. Let’s keep our cars in safe and reliable condition and our neighborhoods even safer. Don’t let a speed bump get the better of you by damaging your vehicle.

Winter Car Care Advice: It’s Not Cool (or Necessary) to Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving

As temperatures are falling in Amarillo this winter (it has been dipping below freezing at nighttime recently), you may be tempted to warm up your car in the early hours of the morning before you head to work—perhaps for your own comfort, or because you’ve heard letting the engine idle for a minute or two prolongs its life. We’re here to tell you there is no truth to the age-old practice of letting your car warm up on cold mornings. In fact, engine warming is NOT beneficial for your vehicle. (Sorry toes!)

The Reason Warming Up Your Engine Is Unnecessary & Potentially Harmful

Here’s what happens inside an internal combustion engine as it idles: when you start your car, the pistons compress air and vaporized fuel inside the engine cylinders. Then, the spark plugs ignite this mixture, creating a miniature explosion that supplies power to your vehicle’s drivetrain. However, when the engine is cold, the gas may not evaporate completely as it combines with the air. In modern cars with an electronic fuel injection, there are sensors that detect this and compensate by adding more gas to the mixture.

For this reason, letting your car idle can lead to excess fuel in the chamber, and when there is too much fuel in the chamber, some of it inevitably condenses onto the cylinder walls and strips away the lubricating oil. When the lubricating oil is gone, components like the cylinder liners and piston rings will wear prematurely. Adding insult to injury, extra fuel is also used, which means more trips to the gas station.

Wear Your Gloves & Don’t Wear Out Your Engine Components

Now that you know letting a cold engine idle can strip oil away from your pistons and cylinders (talk about counterproductive!), don’t do it. Warming up your car isn’t necessary in the winter no matter how chilly it is outside. Once you’re on the road, trust your engine will warm up as needed, and your thermostat and radiator will then keep the engine operating at proper temperature, so long as your vehicle is performing as it should. If you think your heating and/or cooling system isn’t functioning properly, make an appointment for service right away. A car can overheat in the colder temps as well, leading to a breakdown.

For more information on engine idling and performance, bring your car to Aardvark Automotive for a vehicle check-up, especially if any of your warning lights have come on, even if only for a brief amount of time. But as for warming up your engine, you can stop doing that.

Does Modern Automotive Technology Affect Driving Proficiency?

Over the last 30+ years, automotive technology has evolved by leaps and bounds. Features from antilock brakes to parking assist have made driving safer and easier. However, the numerous options, advancements, and upgrades now offered by auto manufacturers have led some to wonder if modern technology is creating less proficient drivers. In this blog, we’re going to look at how auto technology affects driving skills, especially when it comes to younger drivers.

What Studies Show About Technology & Driving Skills

A study from a few years ago found that 1.5 million drivers veered into oncoming traffic while they were looking at their GPS navigation systems. The same study revealed that drivers who regularly use GPS are also more likely to lose their sense of direction when they don’t have GPS, even when they’ve made the same trip multiple times. So, while GPS helps you get where you need to go with fewer wrong turns and less traffic, it may also lead to more accidents, and more difficulty if you find yourself without your GPS for some reason.

It’s also been found that car technology disrupts certain parts of the brain because the technology makes people work less. In other words, drivers rely on GPS instead of forming a mental map in their brains. When you listen to the voice from the navigation system, you simply follow directions instead of putting your cognitive abilities to work. Even worse, studies show that keeping your eyes on a smartphone map or infotainment screen can affect your peripheral vision and ability to react to road hazards.

Implications for Young Drivers

Many teenagers have never been in a vehicle without some level of modern automotive technology. Our advice is to teach teenagers to drive without using any of the tech features, such as parking assist and GPS. Teach your son or daughter how to rear park and parallel park without using a rearview camera, and make sure there’s a map in the vehicle—that he or she knows how to use. In addition, show your teens how to check oil levels and other simple maintenance items, such as adding air to the tires. We bet they’ll thank you in the long run.

Call Aardvark Automotive for All Your Car Care Needs—Tech or Otherwise

If you notice anything wrong with your vehicle’s gadgetry, bring your car to Aardvark Automotive. While modern automotive technology can affect driving proficiency in some ways that are negative, we believe tech does have its place so long as you don’t rely on it too much. Together, we can find the balance between making driving simpler and easier and maintaining the skills you need to be safe on the road.

Should You Drive or Tow Your Car to the Auto Repair Shop?

You’re driving along, and suddenly you detect something wrong with your vehicle—maybe the temperature gauge starts going up, or it begins to make a strange noise. Clearly, you need to get your car to a mechanic. But should you drive or have your car towed to the auto repair shop? Even if your vehicle is still operable, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should continue to drive it. Here are some tips for deciding if you need a tow.

Why get my car towed if my mechanic is local?

While your car may still get you from point A to point B after it starts showing symptoms of a problem (point B being Aardvark Automotive), continuing to drive a vehicle with an existing issue can exacerbate the damage. Avoiding a towing fee is generally not worth doing further harm to your vehicle. In fact, it could result in costlier repairs that could have been prevented if you had your car towed to the shop.

But when it comes down to it, whether to get a tow is a judgment call, and you need to rely on your familiarity with your vehicle to make the decision. Factors to consider include the extent of the symptoms, such as:

  • Smoke coming from the hood or tailpipe
  • The smell of burning oil
  • Screeching, whirring, or knocking from under the hood
  • How far the car temperature falls or increases according to the temperature gauge
  • Intermittent stalling or slow acceleration
  • Rotational noise that increases with acceleration
  • Grinding noise from the brakes when applied
  • Vehicle warning lights displaying on the dashboard

While not always, any of these symptoms could indicate a severe problem with your vehicle—one that could become worse if you continue to drive. A $75 tow could end up saving you several hundred dollars in repairs. Not to mention, it could be dangerous to continue operating your vehicle if it’s not running well. To us, the old maximum “better safe than sorry” holds true in the driving versus towing debate.

Don’t wait to take care of car problems—it’ll cost you in the long run!

Whether you decide to drive or tow your car, what’s most important is to get your car to a professional mechanic as soon as possible. At Aardvark Automotive, we specialize in high-end European cars, as well as the most common makes and models.

What, My Car Won’t Start?!

Some auto parts wear out even if you don’t drive a lot…

Maybe you’ve been there before. You haven’t driven your car for a week or so, and you go to start it, and nothing—likely a dead battery, but it could be something else as well. Unfortunately, some auto parts wear out even if your vehicle is sitting in the garage most of the time, and it’s simply not true that driving less is the key to prolonging the life of your car. For this reason, it’s important to bring your vehicle in for a tune-up now and again, even if it’s only used occasionally for running local errands.

Auto Parts Prone to Wear When You’re NOT Driving

  1. Most obvious is the battery. Eventually, batteries evaporate fluid, especially if they are not used a lot. An aging battery is also more likely to leak and suffer from corrosion. It’s smart to replace your battery every four to five years rather than wait until it dies, and your car won’t start.
  2. Next, let’s talk about the fuel pump. Your fuel pump can fail without warning, and should be inspected every 60,000 miles. Symptoms of a worn fuel pump include engine sputtering at high speeds, and jerking during acceleration from a stop. These issues can be taken care of by a trained mechanic during routine maintenance.
  3. Your vehicle’s timing belt is made from rubber. Rubber degrades over time due to temperature fluctuations, which cause constant contraction and expansion. If your timing belt breaks while you’re driving, it can cause serious damage to your engine valves.
  4. Of course, tires wear with rough use, like driving over potholes, and not keeping them inflated to the recommended PSI can cause damage. However, tires are also made from rubber (like timing belts), and are vulnerable to contraction and expansion from temperature changes, no matter how much or how rough you drive. Therefore, you should inspect your tires annually once they reach the six-year age mark.

 

Our Technicians Know When You Need to Replace a Part

When you don’t drive a vehicle frequently, it can be difficult to know when something’s not right. Before anything goes wrong with your car, schedule a tune-up at Aardvark Automotive. A vehicle inspection will identify any parts that are near the end of their lifespan, so you can get them replaced before they fail. We promise to give you honest recommendations for keeping your car in safe and reliable condition.