Winter Auto Care Mistakes

Of all the things that can go wrong with our cars and trucks, on which we are so heavily dependent, the worst of them are the problems that could have been avoided with a little forethought and a little knowledge about how your automobile works.  Unfortunately, the average driver doesn’t consider the finer points of auto care until they have made a costly mistake.  So today we will address some of the common avoidable errors of wintertime that we see here at the shop.

The first tip we have to offer is never leave your windshield wipers on when you turn your car off.  This time of year we see a lot of drivers who have burned out their windshield wiper motor when the motor tried to turn wipers that were thoroughly frozen to the windshield.  In other cases the wipers remained stuck, but the wiper arms moved accordingly,  resulting in some pretty severe damage to the windshield, which required replacement.  No matter the conditions, we recommend making it a habit to turn them off when you get out.

And for the same reason you should always remove ice and snow from the windshield and the wipers before turning them on.  When there is six inches of snow on your car, please don’t turn your wipers on for a moment and then drive off.   The same goes for the side windows, where trying to move a frozen window can strip the cheap plastic parts that operate    Not only is it unsafe for you and other drivers, it could end up costing you a lot more in repairs than you ever thought a windshield wiper problem could.

And of course, have windshield chips and cracks addressed immediately to avoid further damage.  This is exceptionally important in the winter, since thermal expansion can cause the heated inner layer and the cold outer layer to push and pull against one another.  This type of pressure can turn a small repairable chip into a full windshield crack in the blink of an eye (or a bump of the road).

And remember, when the sever weather comes we are all just trying to stay on the road and get where we need to go.  Show some kindness for your fellow man and drive as safely as possible – You may just spare a life!

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Rochester and the Great Toyota Crisis

Ray Sands Glass wants to acknowledge a few of our Rochester area independent Toyota dealers, who have gone above and beyond their obligations, addressing the  recent recall in a quick and efficient manner to ensure the security of their customers.

With Toyota executives receiving nothing but bad press lately, it can be hard for consumers to separate the behavior of the corporate management from the local independent dealers and the product they promote.  Toyota has a longstanding reputation as an excellent and reliable automobile and we would hate to see this automaker fall the way of so many others recently. Continue reading

Headlight Restoration Lights Up the Night

Many car owners have noticed that over time their headlights seem lose their original brightness and clarity.  This dulling is essentially a road rash on the plastic lenses of the headlight – the salt, sand, dirt and gravel that one encounters on the road effectively sandblasting the plastic lens.  These abrasions, as well as some oxidation of the plastic combine, and actually block light being emitted from the headlight bulb.   Aside from replacing the headlight lens, which can be an expensive ordeal, headlight restoration is really the only way to eliminate the problem. Continue reading

Saving Big by Spending Smart

It is a sentiment echoed across the auto repair industry that proper care and maintenance of each part of the vehicle can extend the life of the parts and save money in the long run.  By taking care of necessary small repairs and maintenance promptly you can save on replacement of a more extensively damaged part.

This certainly applies to windshield repair, since small chips can turn into huge cracks quickly they need to be taken care of immediately.  The difference in cost between repair and replacement is considerable, especially to those in the Rochester, NY area who can come in for our free windshield repair.  For a donation of pet supplies, as little as five pounds of cat or dog food, Ray Sands Glass will repair damage to your windshield before you need a costly replacement.

Some people try to save on bargain gasoline or oil changes which is sometimes a good idea but car owners have to be smart about their choices.   Gasoline at outlet prices can be a big savings to those who commute a lot, but we would advise that every third tank should be high quality gas to “treat the car”.   When it comes to oil changes it would be wise to save by doing it yourself with high quality oil, rather than going to a shop for standard oil.  Unless you are working with a vehicle with very high mileage, it is best to use higher quality fluids to extend the life of the car.

When considering frequently replaced parts, like windshield wipers, you have to consider the life of the part.  One pair of more expensive “banana style” wipers per year is probably cheaper than three pair of the bargain brand which wear out much faster.  If you don’t have money at the moment, using less costly products won’t hurt – but it may cost more in the long run.

Choosing an Insurer, The Shop’s Point of View

Auto Insurance is big business, and now more than ever consumers are doing some serious shopping around when it comes to choosing an insurance company.  One thing that everyone is looking for is polite and courteous treatment by the company’s agents.   All companies are at their best when you’re calling around to shop for rates, but what will happen when you have a problem?  The best place to ask this question is at your local auto repair shop, since no other group of  people spend more time dealing with insurance companies and filing claims. Continue reading

Consumer Rights in Auto Repair

The State of New York released a brochure to inform consumers of their rights under the “Repair Shop Act”, which is designed to help protect consumers from negligent or dishonest auto repair shops.  The best protection is to choose a qualified, reputable shop – but no matter which shop you choose, you still have certain rights as an auto repair customer:

   The Right to a Written Estimate

  Upon request, the repair shop must provide a written estimate, including parts and labor.  The shop may charge for the time it takes to make an estimate – but not more than the normal hourly rate.  The estimate must include each part, it’s cost, whether it is an aftermarket part, and the rate by which labor is calculated.  The shop may not charge more than the written estimate without permission.

   The Right to Authorize  All Work on Your Automobile

  The auto repair shop cannot perform any repairs without your consent.  If the repair shop prepares a work order, they must give you a copy – if you prepare a written work order, the shop must attach it to their invoice.  And if the shop gets work authorized over the phone, the invoice must include name of the person authorizing the work and the date and time of the call.

The Right to the Return of Replaced Parts

The car owner has the right to all replaced parts unless they are warranty or exchange parts, as long as you ask for them in writing before the shop begins work on your car.  However if work is authorized by phone the shop must save the parts so they are available upon pick up of the vehicle.

The Right to Inspect your Vehicle

  Auto repair customers have the right to inspect their vehicle before paying for repairs.  Customers do NOT, however,  have the right to remove the vehicle from the shop before paying, or enter “employees only” areas to inspect the vehicle.

The Right to a Detailed Invoice

After completing repair the shop must provide the customer with a detailed invoice that includes all repairs, replacement parts and labor costs.  The invoice must also include the odometer reading at the time the car was dropped off, as well as the reading at the time of the invoice.  If you got a written estimate from the shop compare it to the invoice and speak to management about any discrepancies before paying the bill.

Obligation of the Repair Shop Regarding Guarantees

   Auto repair shops are not required to guarantee their work, but if the shop chooses to do so, the terms and conditions of the guarantee must be printed on the receipt.

  These right are designed to protect you from negligence and dishonesty,  but they don’t solve every possible dispute.  If there  are any problems with the quality or price of the repair, they can usually be solved with calm, truthful discussion between management and the customer.  Shop owners never want a customer to leave unhappy, but negotiations are always best when everyone keeps their composure.