What to Look For in an Auto Repair Shop

When their cars break down unexpectedly, many people take them to the closest repair shop they can find. But this important decision should not be left to chance.

The best thing to do is to start shopping for a repair facility before you need one. By planning ahead, you can be sure that your car will be in capable hands when repairs are needed.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a nonprofit, independent organization that tests and certifies auto service professionals, offers these tips on finding a good auto repair establishment.

* Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations or consult local consumer groups.

* Arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based solely on location.

* Look for a neat, well-organized facility with modern equipment and vehicles in the parking lot that are equal in value to your own.

* Look for a courteous staff. The service consultant should be willing to answer all of your questions.

* Ask about the shop’s policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

* Ask if the repair facility usually handles your type of repair work.

* Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community or customer service awards.

* Look for evidence of qualified technicians such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced courses and ASE certification.

Approximately 400,000 professionals hold current ASE credentials. They can be found at independent garages, dealerships, franchised outlets, collision shops and various other types of repair facilities.

The certified technicians wear blue and white ASE insignia or pins. Their employers often display their technicians’ ASE credentials in the customer service area and post the ASE sign on the premises.

What To Look For In A Full Coverage Automobile Insurance Quote In Iowa

Unless your automobile is being financed the only type of automobile insurance you are required to have in Iowa is liability coverage. Liability insurance pays for medical expenses (bodily harm) and for property damage (generally the repair of a vehicle) for the other party if you are involved in an accident and it is determined that you are at fault.

In Iowa the minimum amount of liability insurance that you need to buy is what is typically referred to as 20/40/15 liability policy. In other words your liability insurance will cover any one individual for $20,000 in bodily injury with a total of $40,000 coverage for any one accident, plus your insurance will pay $15,000 for property damage.

Given current prices for hospital stays and medical treatment and the cost of replacing even a moderately-priced new car, these minimum amounts for liability coverage could be considered woefully and dangerously out of date.

In order to have full coverage automobile insurance you need a great deal more than simply liability coverage. In addition to liability insurance you will also need medical payments coverage, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.

Medical payments insurance pays your medical bills and the medical bills of anyone in your vehicle if you are involved in an accident and you are deemed to be at fault. Given the current cost of hospital stays and medical treatment you should consider getting the maximum amount of medical payments coverage that you can afford.

Collision insurance pays for the repair or replacement of your vehicle after an accident with another vehicle or with a stationary object, such as a tree or a guard rail. The amount of this insurance that you need depends on the age, condition and the Kelly Blue Book value of your vehicle.

Comprehensive insurance pays for the repair or replacement of your vehicle if it is damaged for causes other than an accident, such as vandalism, weather-related damage, or theft. In addition you need comprehensive insurance to repair or replace your car if you strike an animal, such as a deer. You also need to specifically ask if windshield damage is included in your comprehensive coverage; many policies now require that you buy windshield insurance separately.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you and the occupants of your car if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist and the uninsured driver is deemed to be at fault.

Again, you must make a determination of how much coverage you need and can afford for each type of automobile insurance that you choose.

There are actually several things you can do that will help to keep the cost of your full coverage automobile insurance under some sort of control, but one of the main ways of moderating the cost of your insurance is through the size of the deductible that you decide upon.

The higher your deductible the lower your monthly premium payment will be. However, choose the size of your deductible wisely, based on your financial situation, since you will be required to come up with your deductible in cash before your insurance company will pay off on any claim.

So now that you know what to look for in a full coverage automobile insurance quote in Iowa it’s time for you to get online and start looking for the best price that you can get for your policy.

Be certain to make your price comparisons on at least 3 different websites since no one website compares all of the different insurance companies operating in Iowa. Once you have done that then you can sleep easy at night knowing that you have found the very best full coverage automobile insurance in Iowa at the lowest price possible.

Used Cars At Cheap Prices

Buying a car is a huge investment. Whether a brand new or a second hand car, you still have to shell out a tidy sum to hopefully get the car that meets your specifications.

Second hand cars can be purchased by going to the local dealer, looking at the classified ads or checking out the various websites that allow a person to search and buy a car online.

There are two reasons why used cars are cheaper. The first is that cars once purchased and driven off a lot immediately depreciate. Annually, these cars lose about 20% in value making it easy for you to buy a second hand car almost at half the original price.

Another reason is that it is hard to buy a car and pay the full payment up front. By acquiring the services of a financial institution such as a bank, a person can pay off the loan through monthly installments. Unfortunately, some people have failed to honor that commitment which leaves the financial institutions no choice but to have the car repossessed.

For the bank to avoid storing the many cars that have been repossessed and make up for the lost money, these cars are auctioned off immediately which make it easy for some lucky people to buy fairly new cars and prevent being taken advantage of by car dealers.

Before buying a car, it is best to think about the kind of car you are willing to spend for and the options that come with it. By doing some research and checking out various dealers, you will be able to pick the right car and get the best deal.

You should also check the history of the car. This can be checked by going online and typing in the vehicle identification number or VIN. This can help verify the accidents the car has been in, if the car was reported stolen and the previous owner of the vehicle. It can also check if the mileage was rolled back.

Most cars have a maintenance record. The buyer must ask the dealer to see it and if it is not available, then you should contact the dealership or repair shop where most of the work was done.

The car should also be test driven on the road at various conditions and checked by a trusted and reputable mechanic just to be safe that the car you will buy is road worthy.

Most important of all, you should ask about the warranty. If there are some things not covered by it, it is best to get a service contract to be safe.

Internet the World’s Biggest Auto Marketplace

The next time you need to sell or buy a used car you don’t need to rush to dealers and spend precious time negotiating the best deal. The internet has come to the rescue once again. Following the success of various classifieds sites including job sites, dating sites, real estate site etc auto classifieds sites are the next big thing. Online used cars & bike classifieds are a big draw for buyers and sellers because of the many features they offer which conventional newspaper classifieds lack.

Features of Online Auto Classifieds:

1.    Full page color ads
2.    Multiple photos of your vehicle
3.    Country wide ad listing for long periods up to three months
4.    Personal account & response management system
5.    Privacy options (manage responses via online mailbox only)

These features are available to users of most auto classifieds websites such as Indimoto.com. Users can search according to various parameters such as city, make, model, year etc and get the exact match they are looking for much easier than browsing through pages and pages of newspaper classifieds. US based sites such as Edmunds.com have gone a step further and conduct their own research on used cars to ascertain the desirability and pricing of various models in the used car market. An Indian auto classifieds site Indimoto.com has gone a step further and introduced separate sections for cars, bikes and commercial vehicles.

Indimoto.com is also India’s first carpool site where users can search and post carpool ads. Its not just individual users who are using these sites, car dealers are finding it very beneficial to sell their vehicle inventory online considering the many features on offer. For people who do not know or use the internet dealers can help in selling their vehicle via these auto classifieds sites. You must be wondering about how much it costs to post an ad on such sites. Certain sites are paid sites while sites such as Indimoto.com are completely free to use. Financially it makes a lot of sense to use auto portals since buyers and sellers never need to pay any commission or brokerage for deals done via the site. The site gets buyers in touch with the sellers directly.

So the next time you need to buy or sell a used car or bike look no further that the internet.

Cheap North Carolina Home Owner’s Insurance – Helping You Do Your Homework

If you’re purchasing a home in North Carolina, you’re undoubtedly going to want to purchase a home owner’s insurance policy to protect you, your belongings, and your investment. Yet, there are many questions that must first be answered before you should purchase a home owner’s insurance policy, and many of those questions deal with your new home itself. What condition is your new home in? What repairs should be made to make your home safer and help you get better home owner’s insurance rates?

Yes, there’s much homework to be done when it comes to purchasing a home owner’s insurance policy for your new North Carolina home – but you don’t have to do that homework alone. Before you purchase your home – or right after, if you feel confident enough with the purchase – consider having a licensed North Carolina home inspector take a peek. These professionals are trained in inspecting homes inside and out, including the plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the roof and any porches, decks, or patios.

The home inspector will provide you with a detailed report once the inspection is complete, but it’s best for you to be present during the inspection so you can see first hand just want improvements need to be made. This way, you can assist the electrician, plumber, or roofer once you set up an appointment to have your home repaired. Sure, you won’t be up on the roof with the repairmen, but you will be able to point them in the direction of the damage.

By having a home inspector go through the home and point out each repair that needs to be made, you’re one step closer to getting lower home owner’s insurance rates. If a home owner’s insurance company sees that you’ve just replaced the leaky plumbing or faulty electrical system, the home won’t be viewed as high a risk as it would if the repairs weren’t made.

Auto Repair: The Top Ten Mistakes Made By Your Mechanic

Number One:
Not confirming the concern. Confirming a repair concern is a basic diagnostic principle frequently overlooked. To fix a problem, the first thing one must do is recognize it.

Number Two:
Insufficient Road Testing. The importance of a thorough road test (even for an oil change) is well documented in automotive training manuals. Yet, many technicians consider driving the vehicle into the shop good enough.

Number Three:
Misdiagnosing. For the above reasons and a multitude of others, your vehicle is misdiagnosed more often than not. Mechanics will spend hours chasing the wrong problem, wasting your time and money.

Number Four:
Throwing parts at a problem. To compensate for lack of skills, mechanics often just throw parts at the problem in the hope of getting lucky. It’s common to hear mechanics say I replaced this, this, this, and that, and the problem’s still not fixed. This goes right back to mistake number one: confirm the problem with diagnostics, then proceed.

Number Five:
Not addressing primary concerns first. Technicians often spend an inordinate amount of time looking for easy sells that will fatten their paychecks. There’s nothing wrong with this provided there’s no charge for the inspection, it doesn’t conflict with your time, and the upsell suggestions are valid (they’re frequently not). However, this type of free inspection and the subsequent upselling too often overshadows the primary concern. So…what’s wrong with my car?

Number Six:
Overconfidence. Too often unqualified technicians get in over their heads. Rather than defer to a more experienced technician or facility, they often keep going and do more harm. How’s it go…The road to hell is paved with good intentions?

Number Seven:
Taking shortcuts. In the ongoing effort to beat the clock, technicians will create a host of problems: breaking parts, snapping bolts, short circuiting sensitive electronics. Refer to Auto Repair: How Can They Screw Up an Oil Change for a great discussion.

Number Eight:
Poor Repairs. Whether through incompetence or laziness, mechanics frequently don’t do repairs correctly. It’s often sloppy work. Forgotten bolts, parts not lined up correctly, or components not re-installed properly are common. It gets worse with computer repairs: incorrect software programming, coding, and resynchronization protocols are just a few.

Number Nine:
Not confirming repairs. After a repair is complete, it’s important to re-check to ensure that the problem is indeed fixed. Too often parts are thrown in and the car is pulled out only to pull in another victim.

Number Ten:
Making a mess. If the above nine mistakes weren’t bad enough, there are now greasy fingerprints on the hood and steering wheel, and two big greasy boot marks on the carpet.

Audi Exhausts and Other Fine Parts

Long lurking in the shadow of two German luxury auto giants, Audi has quietly been gaining ground as sales of Mercedes vehicles continue to lag. Within the next few years, Audi is likely to surpass Mercedes and sneak up right behind BMW. These are heady days for Audi, but they aren’t too many years removed from the time when critics called the cars “warmed over” Volkwagens. Times are a changing and auto fans know it. Let’s take a look at some of the best selling accessories for the Audi lover’s car!

<b>1. Custom Tail Lights.</b> Altezza [or Euro] tail lights continue to remain popular with the aftermarket crowd. On older model Audis, including the 90 and 200, these parts look the best as newer models reflect the latest design standards.

<b>2. Car Covers.</b> Ask any owner of a classic Audi how they maintain their car’s appearance and they will tell you: wash, wax, and cover. That’s right, washing and waxing alone are not enough. Keeping your car’s paint protected can only be fully accomplished by covering it with a custom fitted car cover. The more layers the better too for maximum protection.

<b>3. Hood Protector.</b> Some call them car bras, while others call them hood protectors. Regardless, you can protect your grille and give your vehicle a special look with a custom fitted car cover. Select only those that are durable and designed for the exact Audi model you own.

<b>4. Wheel Protectors.</b> There isn’t a whole lot that is worse than a set of dirty wheels on an otherwise immaculate looking car. It kind of reminds you of the handsome guy who wears an expensive Ralph Lauren button down shirt that has been yellowed by underarm stains! Wheel protectors can keep your tires looking great and keep your wheels looking shiny.

<b>5. Performance Chips.</b> Who says you have to be satisfied with your horsepower? A performance chip can help your engine run smoother and more efficiently without taking away from fuel economy. An increasingly popular aftermarket part sought by motorists everywhere.

<b>6. Performance Exhaust.</b> Borla and other brands have developed replacement exhaust systems that can help your car produce more power, achieve greater torque, and increase your fuel economy. These stainless steel parts are made of the same material that builds airliners, so you know that they have to be tough. A nice bonus is the one million mile warranty you get with the system!

Audi aficionados also customize their cars with custom sized floor mats, reusable air filters, performance rotors, heavy duty shocks, and mostly any other part imaginable.

Truly, this German make has made a name for itself as evidenced by the award winning Quattro, long a world leader in handling. If you own an Audi, you have a car that is certain to give you many years of driving enjoyment. Outfit your Audi the way you want with high quality performance and replacement parts sold through your favorite online wholesaler.

A Pillow-Soft, Chrome-Plated Town Car

The Town Car is a full-sized luxury sedan considered to be the flagship of Ford’s Lincoln automobile brandname. It is widely noted for its generously wide interior where one could stretch in the same way as sitting in a business class airline seat. Forbes magazine described the Town Car as a pillowy ride dressed in plenty of chrome.

It is the largest American-made car at nearly 18 feet long. The Signature L edition is slightly longer at 18 and 1/2 feet. This model is competing against other top luxury automobiles like the LS 460 of Lexus, the BMW 7 series, and DTS by Cadillac. It remains America’s most used limousine or chauffeured car. It is more affordable than its European counterpart in the luxury sedan category. Priced at $42,175 (basic Signature Series), the Town Car is the most expensive among its American equivalent. The Signature L is considered as its top-of-the-line at $56,745. A 2003 bullet-proof edition is priced at $144,995.

The Town Car is produced at the Wixom Plant in Michigan. After the 2007 model, Ford decided to move the production of this model to its Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada where other luxury cars like the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis are currently built.

The first Town Car was custom-built for Henry Ford in 1922, and the same name surfaced in 1959 as one among Lincoln’s Continental models. In 1981, the name Town Car stood as a model itself. The latest models are named the Signature series, the Signature L and the Designer.

This car model is generously provided with a powerful 4.6-liter SOHC 16-valve V8 engine that is matched with a 4-speed electronic controlled automatic transmission. Its speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering lets you drive with ease. The black sidewall P225/60R17 tires are all-season compatible.

Inside, the plush cabin is blessed with glove-soft premium light camel leather. The dashboard and other interior platforms are made up of trimmed American walnut burl wood. Although in looks the Town Car is more of a retroactive design, a modern hi-tech touch-screen map and destination navigator console is installed, using DVD mapping and GPS satellite technology combined. The auto-dimming rear view mirror is equipped with a microphone capable of receiving 170 recorded voice commands.

It is like having a concierge on-board while navigating the way to your office or to the ATM terminal of your bank. The navigator could also be programmed to help you find the nearest hospital or police station in times of emergency.

This model from Lincoln is the first to pass a 5-star crash test rating in all five categories – driver frontal impact, passenger frontal impact, front seat side impact, rear seat side impact and roll over. From 2003 to 2007, it garnered the top ratings granted by the US government’s road safety regulation body, beating other leading luxury sedans. The Town Car is also equipped with Anti-Lock Brake System and All-Speed Traction Control.

Entertainment is also VIP class. The cabin is always filled with clear sound, thanks to a THX certified 300-watt stereo. The system is equipped with a subscribed SIRIUS satellite radio with 125 channels to provide you and your passenger with the latest news, sports update, and bulletins on weather and traffic from coast to coast.

Show everyone the legacy of America’s top luxury car by dressing your key with Lincoln Town Car keychains. It is available in round Chrome, oval metal and leather-based designs featuring a black dome inscribed with the rectangle and thin cross logo and the text “Lincoln Town Car”.

Anyone Can Clean Their Car, But What About Those Cloudy, Yellow Headlights?

It is a very common occurence. We see then every day. Its like a disease – yellow, cloudy headlight lenses. I even saw them on cars at the local carwash. It befuddled me that these people would take such great care – washing, vacuuming the interior, removing the floor mats and even hand drying their cars, but they still had those yellowed, cloudy headlights. Its not just a problem on old, very used cars. It is prevalent on 2 – 3 year old cars also. It doesn’t matter if it is a Dodge, Ford, Mercedes, or a Porsche.


When questioned, most said they couldn’t afford, or didn’t want to pay the high prices of replacements from their local auto dealer. The average price for a pair of replacement plastic headlights at local auto dealerships was around $450 – that didn’t even include installation and alignment (that would be another $60-120). Aftermarket headlights do exist, but have received mixed reviews, and the savings aren’t that great, quality and fit is lagging, and then you still had to have them installed and aligned. And for what so you can do it again in another year or two?

There is another solution, there is a patented headlight cleaner and restorer kit. Its under $20, much less expensive than replacement lenses, and it works!

Plastic headlight lenses are the norm in the automotive industry now – every car has them. Some have fancy names like plexan and Lexan, but they all have the same problems. The sun, acid rain, harsh weather conditions, chemicals (brake fluid, power steering fluid, hot radiator fluids, hot water, harsh cleaners, etc…) will all cause the plastic lenses to degrade and weaken quickly. Some manufacturers have gone to including a protective film on the lenses. Regardless, they are all susceptible to this weakening and yellowing over time.

With this headlight cleaner and restorer even junk yard car lenses have been restored to brand new. These same lenses used to be discarded and now have become new profit centers for salvage yards all over. The treatment is applied to the exterior of the headlight lens where the damage is worst and it doesn’t take a mechanic to do it.

It is easy to do, doesn’t take very long, and the results are fantastic. So there is a very economic solution to the problem of yellow, cloudy, worn headlights. There’s no excuse now to not have sparkling clean headlights. Car dealerships everywhere are using headlight cleaner and restorer on their cars and you can too.