Why do You Need a Car Service Plan?

You’ve probably heard of a Car Service Plan before, but do you know exactly what a Service Plan is and how it can benefit you? Without knowing what it is, it can sound a bit like a luxury, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to spend a small amount of money every month (we’re talking approximately R150) and be covered for your car servicing needs in the future, we suggest you read on.

What is a Car Service Plan?

First of all, let’s talk about what exactly, a Car Service Plan is. Basically, it’s a plan that will pay for the regular services of your car. The exact parts of the service that it covers will be stipulated by your car manufacturer, as most service providers of these plans will stick to what is recommended by the manufacturer. Parts, fluids and labour are the general elements that are covered. The plan can run over a certain time frame, or according to a certain amount of kilometres driven. Whenever your car is due for a service, the elements stipulated will be covered, no hassles.

Of course, there are limits: if you bring your car into the service centre in pieces, your plan won’t cover it. Major mechanical damage and electrical faults won’t be covered, but this is standard with all service plans. If you took your car for a service and they fixed all mechanical and electrical damage as part of the service, mechanics would go out of business, and so would service centres!

What are the benefits of a Car Service Plan?

As you’ve probably guessed, there are quite a few benefits to taking out a Service Plan.

First of all, the biggest benefit: you need never worry about inflation increasing the costs of your services. Without a service plan, every time you take your car in, the price of a regular service will have increased to compensate for inflation. With a Car Service Plan, this doesn’t happen. You pay a fixed instalment every month throughout your subscription to the plan. This also saves you money over time. So, a little instalment every month is all it takes to ensure that your car is serviced, and you get to avoid pesky inflation price increases. You get to budget your car-care with professionals.

Secondly, you know that you’ll get a return on investment. Take Car Insurance for example. Car owners take out insurance for the possibility of an accident or car damage. No-one knows whether they will have to claim from insurance at some stage, but the risk of not having this type of cover is too great to take, so people do not mind parting with sums of money they may never see a return on. With a Car Service Plan, you know that your car will need servicing regularly. Whatever premium you pay, you know you’re going to get a return on the monthly instalments because you will be claiming regularly for services.

Third but not least, your car will run all the better for regular servicing. We have all done it – procrastinated over a service and put it off until there is money available. As your car sits un-serviced but still in use, the wear and tear that has formed in the mechanics starts to degrade your car even further, and more quickly.

Eventually, when you have a service, the cost of repairing the damage done by the wear and tear build-up can be expensive. If you get your car serviced when it is supposed to be, the car won’t suffer from existing damage decreasing its performance. The car will also last longer and be far easier to sell, as it will have a complete service history created for you by your service provider.

The True Cost of Ignoring Vehicle Maintenance

Cost of ignoring maintenance of your vehicle has its price and that price can be costly. Let’s look at the cost of not taking care of your car based on
1) The shorten life of your car
2) Repairs caused by skipping routine
3) Being stranded on the side of the road
4) The unplanned charge to your Visa

1) The Life of Your Car

Fluids, spark plugs, filters, belts & hoses, brakes and your transmission all need routine maintenance. “If you don’t maintain your car, you’re taking a vehicle that might have been driven for 200,000 miles over its life, and you’re knocking it down to maybe 150,000 miles,” says Philip Reed, author of “Strategies for Smart Car Buyers” at Edmunds.com. A National Car Care Month inspection yield the following results 85% of all vehicles inspected needed some repair or maintenance thus U.S. Department of Transportation reports an average car lasts about 13 years and 145,000 miles before its scraped. In dollars and cents based on Kelly Blue Book Values depreciation for the first 150,000 miles is about $.16 per mile and for the next 50,000 is $.046 per mile. Or in terms of the resale value you would lose about $231 for all those extra miles if you maintained your car.

2) The Cost of Repairs Caused by skipping routine maintenance

In terms of money, the cost is over 2 billion dollars each year due to neglect (not performing preventive maintenance). Data collected from National Car Care Month inspections shows the percentage of cars that failed and the reasons why vehicles failed inspection.

o Engine Oil – low level or dirty 30%

o Transmission Fluid – low level/dirty 26%

o Brake Fluid – low level or dirty 23%

o Power Steering Fluid – low level/dirty 21%

o Coolant – contaminated or worn out and
needing to be flushed 20%

o Air Filter – dirty and needing replacement 24%

o Belts – damaged, cracked and needing
replacement 19%

o Hoses – damaged, cracked and needing
replacement 17%

What would an inspection of your vehicle show? If you not had them checked recently don’t be so quick to answer. If you have low or dirty fluids, damaged or cracked belts and hoses what could be the cost? Let’s take a look.

1. Oil Changes – Cost of skipping: Potential engine failure.
Imagine this scenario: You haven’t changed your oil in a while because you didn’t think you could afford it. Your car just dies one day so you get it towed to your mechanic. After inspecting your vehicle, he or she determines that it ran out of oil and the engine has seized. Your only options are to replace your engine or replace your car. An average sedan driven 100,000 miles as an example, oil changes would cost about $1,125 overall. If you were to go without an oil change during that period, your engine would likely flood with contaminants and eventually seize. The result, an engine replacement that hovers around $4,000.

2. Brake Maintenance – Cost of skipping: Expensive rotor or drum replacement. Example: Your car starts creating abnormal sounds, feelings or smells, and you don’t get your brakes fixed, then first you wear down the things squealing that are telling you that your brakes are toast. Then you will be out of brake pad and will only stop by your brake system pressing the metal backing plate on a metal brake rotor. If you continue to ignore the problem, you will continue to burn through your brake rotor down to its ventilating fins. It will sound, feel and perform terribly. When you finally fix the problem, it will cost significantly more since you have destroyed several parts, it will cost you 4 to 5 times as much to fix. If you don’t get it fixed you will likely end up in a bad accident making you part of the 5.2% of all motor vehicle accidents that could have been prevented with proper vehicle maintenance.

3. Belts and hoses – Cost of skipping: The tow to the nearest garage, and cost of replacing the belt/hose plus any additional damage done when the belt or hose came apart. Don’t forget the Belt Tensioner, if you hear a squealing noise when the car accelerates and your belts look good it could mean, the belt tensioner is worn and in need of immediate replacement. If the belts can’t be held tight it’s like having no belt at all. Many vehicles a single serpentine belt and if it breaks that means the water pump quits circulating coolant through the engine, the alternator quits producing amps, the power steering pump ceases to assist steering, and the air conditioner quits cooling. The cost to replace a serpentine belt before it breaks would be around $125.00 depending on the belt. The cost after it breaks time and money, drive belt manufactures recommend that all drive belts be replaced on a four year basis that way the replacement can be done at your convenience rather than on an emergency basis.

4. Spark plugs and filters – Cost of skipping: Damaged catalytic converter, failed emissions test, poor performance, engine misfires during acceleration, hard starting and the mother of all undesirables lousy gas mileage. If you drive 12,000 miles per year and lose 1.5 miles per gallon (a 7.5% loss at 20 MPG) it would cost you over $350.00 in additional fuel cost. Replacing a catalytic converter upwards of $800.00. Replacing a dirty air filter can cost as little as $20, but if you neglect to replace it, this can cause an oxygen-sensor failure that will cost as much as $250 to repair.

5. Replacing Timing Belt at recommended intervals – Cost of skipping: Damaged valves and pistons. The death of many older or high mileage cars is nothing other than a failure of the timing belt. With little space between the valves and pistons, a slip or break in the belt can send a piston flying into an open valve. When this happens, it is similar to the engine self-destructing, as it will soon become nothing more than an unusable mess of metal. This means that your car will suddenly stop running and you will not be able to get it started again. In all cases, this means calling a tow truck to come pick up your now non-running vehicle. And again for many the result, an engine replacement that hovers around $4,000.

6. Other Fluids – All the fluids in your vehicle can breakdown over time, change in molecular structure, become less effective because of contaminates and fail to perform as they were intended. Routine maintenance for some is just inspection while others need to be completely removed (flushed) and replaced. Just draining most fluids leaves a substantial amount of old fluid behind. The cost for not performing the recommended maintenance is the premature failure and expensive replacement of one or more components of the system the fluid was meant to protect.

o Coolant – Not changing it frequently enough can cause your coolant to “wear out” or cause a breakdown of the coolant’s chemical properties. Over time rust and scale deposits build up within the radiator and these build ups can cause overheating or even damage your radiator and reduce the life of the water pump from excessive friction and heat.

o Transmission – Transmission fluid is oil, and is therefore subject to viscosity breakdown and the loss of its protective, lubricating, and cooling properties. Operating the transmission on fluid that is worn out results in premature transmission wear and ultimately failure.

o Transfer case or differential – Without routine inspection you would miss fluid with metal flakes that indicates internal wear or that is black indicating it has been overheated. The sooner you have the cause diagnosed the lower the cost of repair.

o Power steering – If the power steering fluid is not inspected regularly for evidence of metal flakes, you may miss the signs of internal wear, which could cause the need to replace the steering gear as well as the power steering pump.

o Brake – If the brake fluid is not inspected regularly for changes in color, you could miss an early warning sign of a brake malfunction. You also need to keep a close eye on brake fluid because it is hydroscopic in nature, meaning it absorbs moisture, which reduces the effectiveness of the fluid leading to premature brake failure

3) Cost of being stranded on the road

o Time: Where will you be headed when the belt/hose blows, (a hot date, to work, pick up your kids or get your mother-in-law to the airport) what will it cost you not to not get to your destination? What if you’re on a driving vacation or business trip you could be stuck for days waiting for the right part to arrive.

o Safety: Where will you be when your car breaks down from a preventable problem? Of all motor vehicle accidents 5.2% can be attributed to mechanical defects due to neglected vehicle maintenance that translates to eleven people injured every hour and one person dies every three hours due to accidents that could have been prevented.

o Being Nagged At: What will it be like being stuck on the side of the road or when you get the call back for your mechanic and tells you the cost of a preventable repair while your significant other reminds you of what you didn’t do to take care of the car.

4) And of Course Money: Lost wages, cost of the tow and the added expense of a major repair at an unknown repair shop A worst-case scenario would be if your car must be towed into a small town, imagine the cost, not only in stress, but for lodging and food and other expenses while you wait for your car to be fixed.

Bottom Line True Cost – A large unplanned charge to your Visa card. Where as routine maintenance would have meant – small budgeted expenses. Research has shown that nearly 20 percent of the vehicles on the road today have a worn belt that needs to be replaced, and nearly 15 percent of vehicles have a hose that needs to be replaced (Auto Pro Workshop). A broken belt is always bad news because when it snaps, all drive power to whatever it turns is lost and the cost of a tow to the nearest garage of at least $75.00 plus the cost of the belt. In the United States, in terms of money, the cost is over 2 billion dollars each year due to neglect (not performing preventive maintenance). Would you prefer small expenditures over time on your schedule or large costs ($$$$) when your car decides, it’s your choice.

Car Maintenance Tips to Take You from Winter to Spring

Car Maintenance Tips to Take You from Winter to Spring
Wisconsin winters are tough. Whilst most people take the time to prepare their vehicle for the harsh winter months ahead, few consider the importance of making preparations for spring. The moment the temperature gauge starts to creep up, you should think about booking a visit with your local car repair shop to give your trusty vehicle a little TLC.
Following a regular car maintenance schedule through the seasons will ensure your vehicle is ready to face the conditions ahead whether you’ll be negotiating icy roads or driving in humid or arid conditions.
Car repair shops offer a comprehensive range of seasonal checks that will prepare your car, truck or any other vehicle you drive for the months of driving ahead. Truck maintenance is especially vital as these vehicles must be fit for purpose and transport their load safely.
Car Maintenance Schedule for the Spring and Summer

Springtime is a time of reawakening and renewal following the cold winter months. Attending to the maintenance guidelines below will ensure your vehicle emerges from the winter in roadworthy condition. A well maintained vehicle will give you years more reliable service and be less prone to major faults.
•Swap out tires – If you’ve been using winter tires, it’s time to swap these out for all-season tires. Check each tire is inflated and balanced and also ensure you have a well-maintained spare tire available. Any car repair shop should be able to help you with checking your tire pressure and ensuring your tire tread is sufficient and most importantly, legal.
•Check your brakes – Icy roads mean heavy braking and that can put your brake pads under a lot of pressure. If you’ve noticed brake squeal or any grinding noises when hitting the brakes, you need to get them checked as soon as possible.
•Top up your fluids – A well-lubricated vehicle is a happy vehicle. So many engine parts rely on liquids to keep them cool, oiled and working at optimum levels. Again, booking a seasonal check at your local car repair shop will identify any problems with fluid levels. Engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and windscreen washer fluid are all essential to the performance of your vehicle and levels need to be checked and topped up at regular intervals. Over the winter, freezing temperatures can cause these fluids to become dull and ineffective so a complete drain out and top up with fresh fluids is recommended.
•Automatic transmission – vehicles with automatic transmissions need special consideration when refreshing fluids. Overheating is a real problem with these vehicles and it’s therefore important to keep vehicle fluids at the right level.
•Air-conditioning and ventilation – You probably haven’t had your air-conditioning on during the winter months so it’s a good idea to have a complete service of the system to ensure it works perfectly on those hot days.
•General component checks – lights, seatbelts, dashboard warning lights, wiper blades, spark plugs and hoses should be checked for general wear and tear and replaced or repaired if faults are found.

Keeping your vehicle in top condition throughout the year is important. By booking your vehicle into one of the leading car repair shops in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, you can ensure your car maintenance schedule is taken care of. You can sign up to our car repair shop mailing list today to receive the latest discounts and coupons.

Just An Oil Change?

How is it that in many consumers’ minds, the most performed and most important service on your vehicle became “just an oil change”? Whether you have this performed at the intervals the old quickie lube shops made up of 3,000 miles, or most manufacturers recommended 7,500 miles, it is still completed more often than any other service on your vehicle. This is your vehicles routine check-up and should be of higher importance.

A long lasting engine has proper lubrication. This means not only replacing the engine oil on time, but making sure the oil level is always where it needs to be, and the oil is the right type for your application. As you drive further and further, your engine oil breaks down. This destroys the lubricating abilities of the oil. Engines that don’t have proper lubrication work harder, get hotter, and wear faster. Last time I checked, your motor was the most important part of your vehicle.

In addition to being concerned with your engine, the oil change is the time to verify the rest of the vehicle is in good shape. Here are some routine services and checks that you need to make sure your mechanic is doing, every time your car is in for service.

Tire Maintenance – A tire rotation and air pressure check should be performed every oil change. It is also recommended to have your tire balance and wheel alignment checked at the very least. All shops will check your air pressure for free and in California it is required by law. Most automotive shops offer a free tire rotation and free balance and alignment checks with their oil change service. This is a good way to extend the life of your tires and ensure your vehicles safety.

Brakes – Verify that the mechanic or auto technician checked your brakes during your oil change. The wheels will come off during the tire rotation so it’s only a matter of them observing the brakes condition. Once again, most shops perform this as a free service to you while having your oil changed. Checking the brakes is necessary in determining how safe your vehicle is.

Fluids – As the oil is essential to the engines performance, so are the other fluids under the hood. All shops should verify the fluid levels and any irregularities with them. Most shops will even offer free fluid top-off. It’s always good to double-check with the mechanic that this service was performed.

General Inspection – Give your auto service technician a chance to fully inspect your vehicle for any potential concerns. A lot of auto repair shops will do a multi-point inspection just as a doctor does on you at your check-ups. Generally this is also a free service offered by the auto repair center upon request. The mechanics should be looking for leaking, cracked, worn, torn or broken parts during this written inspection.

So rather than bringing your car in for “just an oil change”, have it thoroughly inspected and maintained. It will take longer than a 10 minute oil change, but your safety and your vehicles overall well-being relies on it. Most shops will even perform theses much needed services and checks for free. Your most important service is the key to your car’s long life.

Tire testing from “A” to “C”

Tire testing is a critical element that helps separate different qualities and types of tires. When we think of a quality tire we think of dependability. This dependability is crucial considering the demanding driving conditions that we face daily. The brand and price of a tire also does not solely dictate how well the tire will perform. One must take into consideration driving style, type of vehicle and the location in which the vehicle is driving.

All of the above considerations are valid elements that tire testers actively consider when testing tires. All tires sold in the United States today must meet federal safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration enforces the Uniform Tire Quality Grade System, and tires must meet certain expectations set by government-mandated tests. These tests include a tread wear, traction and temperature resistance test. All of these tests are completed by the manufacturer who then reports the results to the government.

When the test results are analyzed and given back from the government the manufactures then assign grades to each particular tire. These grades are input into the sidewall of each different type of tire they manufacture. When grading tread wear, the grades range from 60 to over 500. The higher the grade, the better the tread wear will be on the tire. When grading traction testers first look at the tire’s ability to stop a vehicle in a straight motion on a wet pavement test surface. When testing traction the test does not require you to test for acceleration. Traction grades range from “AA” to “C” with “AA” being the highest possible grade.

When measuring temperature we look at the ability of the tire to maintain the ability to dissipate heat under a controlled indoor test. Temperature grades will range from “A” to “C” with “A” being the best grade. When analyzing speed ratings we look at indoor laboratory testing. In this lab testing, measurements of high speed tire durability are conducted under controlled test conditions. You might be asking yourself the question, why do we need a speed test; I thought people were supposed to stay under the speed limit? To this we answer, the reality is that people are not always going to obey the speed limit. With this said the tires top speed capability must at least equal the vehicles top speed capability. Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the importance of tire testing, and how it might play into the tires you count on every day.