Auto Repair: Where To Go When Your Warranty Expires

I think most of us can relate to wanting to slam our phones into a brick wall if we get another phone call about our vehicle’s extended warranty. Whether you had a warranty and it expired, never had a warranty, or extended the warranty for ‘better’ coverage, chances are you really just want the calls to stop. So, where do you go when your vehicle is in need of repair and your warranty has expired? Well, what if we told you that letting your warranty expire might be the best thing you do for your car, your pocketbook, and your sanity? West Chester PA Auto Repair

Dealership or Private Party?

The first assessment to make is whether or not your vehicle’s repairs need to be done at a dealership or privately owned business. Here is an easy checklist to refer to when deciding where to go:

  • Is it covered under warranty?
  • Is it a recall or service bulletin?

Okay, so the list really is not that long. Seriously, unless the vehicle is covered under warranty or is under a current recall, there is no reason to take your vehicle to a dealership (unless you like paying more). Even if your vehicle needs factory work, any privately owned business can perform the work for much less than a dealership would charge. Requirements for factory maintenance are published online which allows any skilled mechanic to tackle the job.

Advice From Tommy

In general, you will pay much more for your repair at a dealership. You will get a mechanic trained to work specifically on your type of car, but unless you have a rare and complicated problem, a competent mechanic at a local garage will likely give you the same parts and service for up to 40% below what you would pay at a dealership!

I think the most important thing in auto repair is the customer-mechanic relationship. You are less likely to get to know the mechanics at a dealership, and they are less likely to get to know you and your vehicle. In the end, you have to do your research about your specific vehicle and what repairs are needed.

We are happy to service your vehicle and provide any repairs needed for most makes/models. We have good relationships with many happy customers and have dozens of life-long clients. If you are in need of a quote or want more information about whether or not you need a dealership for your repairs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Time to Check Your Tires

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, there are several things you should be checking, but none quite as important as the quality and life of your tires. Inspecting the tire pressure and tread regularly will ensure your safety and keep your vehicle’s health in check.

checking your tires

Under Pressure: Maintain the Right PSI

Being under pressure or feeling pressured is not a great feeling unless you are a tire. Having accurate tire pressure at all times is not only easy to check, but it is also incredibly essential to vehicle maintenance. Not all vehicles are created equally, so the first step to checking your tire pressure is to look up the recommended psi for your specific make/model. Most vehicles recommend keeping their tires between 27 and 32 psi for each tire. Having the right tool to check tire pressure is also vital. You can find a tire pressure gauge at most stores that have an automotive department. They are relatively affordable and easy to use. It is also important to remember that temperature can affect tire pressure (typically 10 degrees increases pressure by 1 psi), so if your tires were filled in the winter, you can expect a higher psi in the summer months. Likewise, if you fill your tires at the beginning of the fall season, they may become under-inflated when it gets colder. Maintaining the correct tire pressure is especially important in the winter months, as having an under-inflated set of tires is going to severely impact your gas mileage and could lead to tire failure on the road. If you need to fill your tires, please use this map to find a location near you that has a free air pump.

Don’t Blow It: Check the Tread

You have probably heard the old adage that if you stick a penny in the tread of your tires and see Lincoln’s forehead it is time for a new set of tires. This is a great initial test to check the wear on your tires. The tread on your tires assists your vehicle’s ability to control and navigate safely through the elements. Without tread, driving through mud, water, and snow can become incredibly dangerous. As your tread gets worn down, the lining of your tire becomes thinner. The thinner it becomes incredibly slippery. This will allow your vehicle to hydroplane, get stuck, and even puts you at risk for a blowout. So, heed the advice of your grandparents and grab a penny for the road.
If you discover you need new tires, or you need help with any aspects of vehicle maintenance, please come into our shop or contact us and we would be happy to assist you. Be safe this winter!

 

Keep Your Children Safe on the Road This School Year

School Bus Stop SignIt’s time to go back to school! Whether you are sending your child to school on a bus or letting your teen driver take a turn at the wheel, it is important to prepare them for the journey. According to the CDC, 258,000 teens were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2019.

While taking the bus tends to be a safer alternative, teaching your children these basic safety tips is vital in helping them arrive at school safely.

Teen Driving Safety Tips:

  • Remember that safety starts in the home. Setting household guidelines when it comes to driving habits is important when your kids begin driving. Points of discussion would be cell phone use, music and other distractions, passengers that are not family members, etc.
  • Remind your teen of the 5 basic rules of safe driving: no phones, no extra passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, and no driving or riding without a seat belt.
  • Know that the main factor in teen accidents is that teens are inexperienced drivers, which makes them the MOST dangerous demographic on the road. They have trouble determining breaks in traffic, turning safely, selecting appropriate speeds, and tend to make a number of other poor decisions regarding nighttime driving, alcohol, and seatbelt use.

Tips for Helping Children Board the Bus Safely:

  • Keep all belongings in a backpack to prevent dropped items. If a ball gets dropped and rolls near a school bus, your child should know to alert the bus driver before going to get it. Under no circumstance should your child pick up a dropped item.
  • Groups of children are easier for drivers to spot. Walk younger children onto the bus and have older students walk in one group.
  • Encourage students to make eye contact. The NHTSA recommends children arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus arrives and to stand at least 10 feet away from traffic.
  • Remind children to never stand or walk behind a bus. If your child needs to cross the street, encourage them to wait until the bus has left or teach them to communicate with the bus driver directly about crossing in front of the bus at a safe time.

Even though school buses are among the safest vehicles on the road, if not the safest, it is imperative that your student know best practices when it comes to keeping it that way. If you’ll be driving your child into school (or they’ll be driving), this is also a good time to make sure your car’s inspection is up-to-date. If your car is in need of a service, be sure to contact Tommy’s Automotive.

Summer: Beating the Heat with A/C

Car air conditionerRoad trips are a family favorite for many, and now that the heat is rising, it’s essential for any summer road trip to have optimal air conditioning.

We rely on our auto air conditioning every single day, yet many of us don’t know how it works. Even if your A/C unit appears to be working, it could be running inefficiently, meaning either you can’t quite get cool or you might be losing a lot of gas mileage.

AC Problems May Be Caused By Low Refrigerant

A common problem with an air conditioner is it may have a low level of refrigerant, which can happen without a visible difference. If your refrigerant levels are off, your car will be using an abundance of gas to cool itself down, causing you to lose gas mileage and money. Because of routine problems like this, we recommend that you have your A/C serviced at least once every two years (if not more often), especially before the summer months. This will ensure that everything is working properly.

Is Your Car More Efficient With the Windows Rolled Down?

In addition to having regular maintenance on your A/C system, there are a few ways to save fuel while still staying cool. Of course, there is the dilemma of whether to roll the windows down or run the cool air conditioning. Although there is some debate among the experts, the general consensus is that at lower speeds (under 45 mph), having the windows down is more efficient, while at higher speeds (above 45 mph), having the windows down causes too much air drag, so running the A/C is the better option. A final way to save gas that is not commonly known is to run your A/C on re-circulate because it takes significantly less energy to cool down the already cooler inside air than the hotter outside air.

As you get ready for the hottest months of the year, or your road trip, consider taking your car into the shop to make sure everything is running at peak efficiency. Contact us today!

Text to Pay Available Now

Text to PayYou no longer have to worry about picking up your car before the shop closes! Tommy’s Automotive now offers a text-to-pay method. This system sends a text containing payment links allowing customers to easily and conveniently pay for their service from their phone.

This user-friendly service is a safe and secure way to send payments. It allows customers to pay for their service without needing to be at the office to process payments. Try it out next time you visit Tommy’s Automotive!

 

Replacing a Radiator on a 1957 Chevrolet

Antique cars hold a special meaning to their owners. Their doors hold memories of a lifetime and keeping the vehicle in perfect shape is necessary.

We recently received a call to replace a radiator for a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. After a few hours, we were able to return this beautiful blue car to its owners. We are excited that we were given the opportunity to work on such a unique car. Check it out:

What Tommy’s Has Been Up to This Summer

Most haven’t been using their car as much due to COVID-19, making this the best time to get your car serviced. Cars that have been sitting for some time may experience problems starting, with the tires, fluids, and more. We will ensure your car is in safe conditions for any of your commutes with our preventative maintenance.

We’ve been keeping busy the past few months at Tommy’s Automotive.

Head Gasket Repair

We recently had a 6.0 L Diesel Ford Truck come into our shop that needed a new head gasket. We tackled this project by lifting up only half of the truck. This allowed for easy access to the head gasket, making this a speedy job.

Maintenance on Red Dodge Charger

We were excited to have this red Dodge Charger come into our shop! When we were finished with this speed bullet, it ran as good as new.


Red Dodge Charger

Auto Maintenance & Repair Services

Preventative maintenance can help prevent any costly repairs down the road. If you’re interested in scheduling a maintenance check for your car, contact us today!


Blue BMW

A COVID-19 Update from Tommy’s

Spray NineWe hope that our customers are washing their hands and staying healthy during this scary and confusing time. Tommy’s, your auto repair shop in West Chester, is still open for business, but with a few modifications.

We are taking extra care to keep everything in our shop clean and germ-free. We use a product called Spray Nine, a heavy-duty cleaner, degreaser, and disinfectant, which is pictured.

Our Waiting Room is Closed

Our waiting room is not open, so you will need to arrange transportation to and from the shop while we work on your vehicle.

Make Sure Your Battery Doesn’t Leave You Out in the Cold

Car batteryBatteries are one of the simplest, yet most vital parts of a car.  If the battery is dead or is no longer working, the car won’t even start in the first place. However, people often forget to check their batteries until it’s too late which leads to them being stranded.

Two easy ways to keep your battery running longer include keeping your car in a garage when it’s at home to shield it from the elements and cleaning off the battery.  To clean the battery, look for build-up around the terminals; it can usually be easily removed with some baking soda and water.

It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on how your battery is doing throughout its lifecycle.  You can do this by using a battery tester at a local auto shop. Although these testers can’t give you perfect information about what is going on, they can give you an idea of how the battery is doing overall.

People often have problems with batteries in the winter for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the oil inside your engine is essentially like molasses in the cold weather, making the engine much harder to turn over (requires more current from battery).  Second of all, your battery does not produce its normal amount of energy in the cold.  These two factors combine to cause a lot of problems, which is why it’s better to be safe than sorry with batteries, especially in the winter.

A battery’s typical lifetime usually ranges between 4 and 5 years.  At that point, there’s usually nothing that can be done to save the battery; it simply has to be replaced.  Just remember, you’d rather be on top of it and get it replaced 6 months early on your own schedule than have to do an emergency repair after your battery fails out and strands you in the cold.

Just in case you have a battery problem, it’s always good to remember how to jump a car.

Have questions about your battery? Give us a call (610) 696-2633.

Our PA Inspection Process

mechanic conducting a PA inspectionAll Pennsylvania vehicles are required to be inspected each year at an Official PA Inspection Station. This is to keep the roads safe for Pennsylvanians.

Since Tommy’s is an Official PA Inspection station, we’re familiar with the process of having a vehicle inspected. This is usually the process we follow when we complete inspections.

Exterior Check

We’ll look at your license plate and make sure it’s fastened onto your vehicle securely and is easily visible. To prevent visibility issues and risk of further damage, we’ll take a close look at your windows and windshield to ensure there aren’t any cracks or chips. We’ll do a test of your doors, windows, and wiper blades to make sure they’re functioning safely. We’ll also make sure your turn signals, headlights, taillights, and any other exterior lights don’t need to be replaced. Lastly, we’ll check your bumpers for stability.

Interior Check

An important part of the inspection is checking your steering wheel. We want to make sure your wheels will turn and that your steering wheel and column are in good condition–we call this part checking the alignment. We’ll check your seatbelts, press your horn to make sure it’s working, and then do a thorough inspection of your brakes. Your brake pads, brake pedal, and parking brake all need to be in working order for your car to pass inspection. You can learn more about our brake repair services here.

Engine Check

During this phase of the inspection, we’ll pop your hood to see what’s going on underneath. We’ll look over your exhaust, transmission, fuel, battery, and coolant systems to ensure that there is no leaking or signs of damage. This is also when we check your emissions system.

Chassis Check

Now, we head underneath your vehicle to check the chassis. We’ll take a look at your shocks, coil springs, axels, and frame to ensure they’re free of wear and damage. We’ll do a final check of your brakes and exhaust system.

The last part of the process is the tires. We’ll check the tread and the depth and look for signs of wear. We’ll ensure there aren’t punctures or other damage. And if your tires need to be fixed, we will be able to take care of that in our shop.

Before your car officially passes inspection, we’ll take it for a test drive.

You can click here to learn more about PennDot’s regulations.

Contact us today to schedule your vehicle inspection!