Welcome to our Comprehensive Guide to Auto Services – your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about keeping your ride in top condition. Whether you’re a first-time car owner or a seasoned driver, understanding the wide array of auto services available is key to ensuring your vehicle’s longevity and performance. We’ll dive into everything from basic maintenance and repairs, to specialty services and when to seek them out, helping you navigate the world of auto services like a pro. Buckle up and let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Dealer vs. Auto Mechanic: Who Should I Go to for Repairs?
- Why Do You Need a New Jersey State Car Inspection?
- When Am I Supposed to Get a New Jersey State Car Inspection?
- What Do You Need to Bring to a New Jersey Car Inspection?
- What Is Checked During a Car Inspection?
- How Can You Tell If Your Oil Needs to Be Changed?
- What Are Custom Performance Exhaust Systems?
- What Are Custom Cat Back Exhaust Systems?
- Is Aftermarket Exhaust Bad for the Engine?
- Why is the Check Engine Light On?
- What Are Some Common Reasons the Check Engine Light Will Come On?
- How Often Should You Inspect Your Tires?
- Why You Should Use Professional Fleet Services
- Signs You Need Brake Service
- How Long Do Brakes Last?
- How Often Should You Service Your Brakes?
- How Often Should I Change My Brake Fluid?
- What is the Average Lifetime of Brake Rotors?
- What is Module Programming / ECM Flashing?
- How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
- What Causes A Dead Car Battery?
- Signs You Need To Replace Car Battery
- How Often Should I Have My Car Serviced?
- What is an AC Recharge?
- Car AC: Repair or Recharge?
- How Often Should I Replace My Air Filter?
- Should I Rebuild or Replace My Engine?
- Why Does Your Car Break Down in Summer?
- How Often Should I Change Transmission Fluid?
- Should I Rebuild or Replace My Transmission?
- Can Rebuilding My Engine or Transmission Save Money?
- Why You Need Scheduled Maintenance
- Can I Go To You For A Second Opinion?
- How Should I Prepare My Car For Winter?
1 - Dealer vs. Auto Mechanic: Who Should I Go to for Repairs?
Choosing an independent mechanic over a dealership for your car repairs can be beneficial for several reasons. Independent mechanics typically offer more cost-effective solutions due to lower overhead costs compared to dealerships, and they often have the flexibility to negotiate costs based on your needs. Furthermore, they tend to provide a personalized service, fostering trust through direct interaction and in-depth discussions about your car’s issues and potential solutions. This contrasts with the often impersonal experience at dealerships, where communication is usually mediated through a service department, distancing you from the actual repair process.
2 - Why Do You Need a New Jersey State Car Inspection?
In New Jersey, drivers are required to have a state car inspection every two years in order to make sure their vehicle is safe for the road and that emissions are up to the standard set by the state. This can either be done at the Motor Vehicle Commission, or an auto repair shop that has a Private Inspection Facility (PIF) license to perform certified state inspections.
3 - When Am I Supposed to Get a New Jersey State Car Inspection?
If you are unsure when you need to get your next car inspection, look at the inspection sticker that is found on the inside of your windshield which will state when the sticker expires. You’ll want to schedule an inspection for your vehicle before the expiration date passes, so don’t wait until the last minute.
4 - What Do You Need to Bring to a New Jersey Car Inspection?
Regardless of where you go to get your state car inspection handled, you’ll need to bring a few things, including:
- Driver’s license, which should already be on you at all times when you’re behind the wheel. You don’t actually have to be the owner of the vehicle you’re having inspected, but you do have to be a licensed driver.
- Vehicle registration, because it shows that the vehicle is legally purchased.
- State of NJ Insurance ID Card, which will prove to the inspector that you have valid car insurance.
5 - What Is Checked During a Car Inspection?
As of 2021, New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission state car inspections no longer include checks for safety components like brakes, tires, and lights. Instead, they primarily focus on emissions testing, including a check on the gas cap, on-board diagnostic (OBD) system, and the vehicle’s emissions system to ensure it adheres to federal clean air standards. The inspection also includes a visible smoke check from the tailpipe. Always consult the New Jersey MVC for the most current information as the requirements may vary.
6 - How Can You Tell If Your Oil Needs to Be Changed?
Most drivers will get their oil changed before they can see or hear anything wrong with their car. However, there are several signs that may indicate your oil needs to be changed.
- The oil is dark and dirty – Clean oil is a clear amber color, but becomes contaminated from dirt and particles it collects from the engine. To check the oil color, use a dipstick. If the dipstick comes up with thick dark fluid, it is time to schedule an oil change right away.
- Loud or unusual engine sounds – Clean oil provides lubrication that protects metal on metal contact in your engine and keeps the engine quiet as you drive. If your engine suddenly because louder, the oil is likely contaminated to a degree that it is no longer providing adequate lubrication. If you hear engine noises, you may be in dire need of an oil change.
- Oil change or check engine light – The oil change light on your dashboard will let you know that there isn’t enough oil in the system. As soon as you see this light, check your oil level with a dipstick and if it is too low, schedule an oil change.
- Exhaust smoke – Smoke being emitted from your tailpipe could indicate an oil leak in your engine or faulty parts. If you notice smoke, have a professional perform a diagnostic test to pinpoint the problem.
- Oil smell inside your car – If there is a strong odor in your car, it likely indicates a leak. This may also be mixed with the smell of gas or exhaust fumes. If you smell this, your vehicle is likely overheating and oil is burning in the exhaust area. This can cause serious damage to your car so reach out to a professional right away.
7 - What Are Custom Performance Exhaust Systems?
A custom-built exhaust system gets you the most horsepower possible out of your car. Our exhausts allow the car’s engine to perform at its peak by creating a more efficient path for exhaust in the engine to exit the car, giving the engine space to breathe and allowing for more fuel and air to burn. By increasing the flow capability of the engine, you will feel the difference in power as soon as you leave the lot with your new exhaust system.
8 - What Are Custom Cat Back Exhaust Systems?
Cat back exhaust systems, which get their name from the section of the system found behind the catalytic converter, increase the sound level, efficiency, and performance of your vehicle with larger diameter pipes than OEM systems, which allow exhaust gases to exit with as little back pressure as possible.
9 - Is Aftermarket Exhaust Bad for the Engine?
Custom exhaust will not damage your engine in any way as long as it is fitted, installed, and tuned by our professional team. Adding aftermarket exhaust to a vehicle involves remapping the engine’s fuel system and changing the designed air flow, so attempting to do it yourself could lead to engine problems.
10 - Why is the Check Engine Light On?
When you notice your check engine light has come on, it can cause a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. It could be something minor, like a faulty gas cap, which will not cause any major issues. However, it could also be a serious problem, such as a misfiring engine. The check engine light is a signal from the car’s engine computer that something is wrong. The problem is that the check engine light doesn’t actually let you know what the problem is, which means most vehicle owners will need to visit an auto shop for auto diagnostics in order to pinpoint where the issue is coming from.
If you see the check engine light come on, don’t ignore it. It is important to address problems indicated by the light promptly. Ignoring them could lead to larger, costlier problems later.
11 - What Are Some Common Reasons the Check Engine Light Will Come On?
While there are many different reasons that your check engine light could turn on, there are several frequent problems that might be the culprit, such as:
Gas Cap is Loose, Missing, or Damaged
This is a pretty easy thing to look for if your check engine light has turned on. Your car will run fine with a gas cap problem, but it can allow gasoline to leak from your gas tank. Depending on the specific gas cap issue, these leaks can be relatively small or rather large.
There are also other issues that can be found in your gas tank recirculation system, so even if you don’t see a problem with the gas cap, there might be another underlying issue.
Ignoring these problems will cause increased gas evaporation which means you’ll need to fill up more regularly. It is in your financial interest to fix these issues as soon as they appear.
Failing Oxygen Sensors
The oxygen sensor in your car measures the unburned oxygen in the exhaust system. The area that houses the oxygen sensor can get to 800 degrees or more, which puts a lot of stress on the system. They commonly need to be worked on or replaced.
Sometimes the engine code is identifying a problem but it does not necessarily mean the oxygen sensors need to be replaced. If you ignore problems with your oxygen sensor, your engine will burn more fuel than necessary, and you will lose fuel economy. A faulty oxygen sensor also has the potential to damage your vehicle’s spark plugs or catalytic converter.
Catalytic Converter Failure
Your vehicle’s catalytic converter is a crucial component of the exhaust system that turns carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. It is a very simple but important part of any vehicle and one that you should keep an eye on, as failures can easily be avoided.
A new catalytic converter can run you several hundred dollars, so it’s best to keep your current one in good condition than have to replace it. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes and emissions repair, is the best time to also make sure your catalytic converter is in working order.
In general, this is going to be an obvious problem even without the help of the check engine light. Your vehicle’s ignition system includes the spark plugs, coil packs, and everything else needed to ignite the air/fuel mixture inside the engine. If you are experiencing frequent misfires when attempting to start your vehicle, there is almost certainly an issue with one of these parts that needs to be addressed.
12 - How Often Should You Inspect Your Tires?
You should inspect your tires regularly (once a month is a good routine) for excessive or irregular tread wear, scrapes, snags, cuts, bulges, cracks, impact damage, punctures, stones, or other debris embedded in the tread, or other damages. If you notice any of these conditions or if you are experiencing constant pressure loss, the tire should be dismounted and inspected for damage on the inside to determine if a repair can be made.
If you’re driving with a tire that is constantly losing air or has a puncture, it is important to your safety and the safety of other drivers that you have your tire inspected immediately. A repair professional will be able to perform a thorough inspection of the tire to make sure it can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. Tire repair services can:
- Safely repair small punctures
- Prevent further damage to the tire
- Maintain air pressure at recommended levels
13 - Why You Should Use Professional Fleet Services
If you are looking for an auto shop to perform fleet services on your company’s vehicles, look no further than Bradley’s Auto Service:
- Proactive Maintenance – To keep your fleet in peak working condition, it is important to regularly maintain each vehicle, including tire repair and replacement, exhaust system repair and inspections, wheel alignment, brake service, and more.
- Minimal Downtime – Any time your vehicles are out of commission is time they are not being used for business. Our team works quickly and efficiently to identify issues and make repairs so your fleet can be up and running ASAP.
- State Inspections – We are certified by the Motor Vehicle Commission to offer New Jersey state car inspections. We are also fully licensed to repair emissions failure.
- Close Relationships with Our Customers – We take the time to understand our clients and their needs when it comes to fleet services. We can create custom maintenance and service plans for your fleet so everything can stay in working order.
14 - Signs You Need Brake Service
Ideally, a professional will be able to tell you that your brakes need to be replaced before you actually experience any of the common signs of worn out brakes. However, most people won’t consider bringing their car in for brake service until it becomes obvious that something is wrong. Some of the obvious signs that you need to have your brakes checked include:
- Reduced responsiveness – If your brakes are feeling less responsive or the brake pedal seems to sink towards the floor, it may indicate a leak in the brake hose or a brake fluid leak.
- Pulling – If you feel your vehicle pulling to one side when you brake, it could indicate that your brakes are wearing unevenly.
- Noise when braking – If you start hearing a squeaking, squealing, growling, or grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you should bring your car in for an inspection.
- Vibration – A vibrating brake pedal usually indicates that your brake pads have worn out. It is important to have your vehicle checked right away if this is happening.
15 - How Long Do Brakes Last?
Brake pads usually last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. But this depends a lot on how and where you drive. Make sure to check them regularly, especially when you get your oil changed. If you hear squeaking or grinding when you brake, it’s time to get them checked.
16 - How Often Should You Service Your Brakes?
Even if you don’t notice any of the obvious signs that your brakes need to be repaired or replaced, it is a good habit to have a professional perform a routine inspection.
Depending on how much you use your vehicle, you may want to schedule brake service more or less frequently. Some people have their brakes checked once or twice a year like clockwork, whereas others will schedule brake service after a few thousand miles. Either way, getting into a routine is the important part.
17 - How Often Should I Change My Brake Fluid?
Changing brake fluid is something you should do now and then to keep your car safe. Usually, you should do this every 2 to 3 years or every 20,000 to 30,000 miles. Always check your car’s manual to know exactly when. This helps to avoid brakes problems down the road.
18 - What is the Average Lifetime of Brake Rotors?
Brake rotors usually last a good while, generally between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. But it’s a good idea to check them whenever you replace your brake pads. Some new cars have rotors that can last much longer. Use your car’s manual to know when to check and replace them.
19 - What is Module Programming / ECM Flashing?
Module programming, also known as module flashing, module reflashing, ECM flashing, and ECM reflashing, is a tuning technique for your vehicle’s computer. Reflashing an engine computer is the process of replacing the existing software in a vehicle controller with new software.
Module programming can fix issues but can also be done to help with fuel economy and performance. Companies with fleets of vehicles often hire technicians to perform module programming to save money on gas over time.
20 - How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
On average, a car battery lasts between 3 to 5 years, but this can vary greatly depending on various factors, including the quality of the battery, the climate, your driving habits, and how often the car is used.
Regular maintenance, such as cleaning battery terminals and checking the battery’s charge, can also extend its life. It’s a good idea to start checking your battery’s performance after it’s been in use for 3 years and to consider replacing it every 5 years to prevent being stranded with a dead battery.
21 - What Causes A Dead Car Battery?
Several factors can cause a dead car battery, some of which are preventable or correctable. One cause is parasitic draw, where your car’s electrical systems continue draining battery power even when the car is off. This drain is not due to any obvious cause, like leaving your headlights on, and needs to be diagnosed by professionals if suspected.
Another cause is corroded connections. Over time, the terminals connecting your battery to the vehicle can corrode or get damaged, disrupting the battery’s connection and leading to power loss. Lastly, issues with the alternator, which charges your car battery while you’re driving, can result in the battery not getting adequately charged.
22 - Signs You Need To Replace Car Battery
Here are just a few ways to tell that you need to replace your car battery:
- Your car doesn’t start: A new battery has a specified capacity to provide power. As it ages, the amount of power a battery can supply becomes lower than its original rating. Once this falls below a critical threshold, it will be difficult or impossible to start your car.
- The battery warning light has turned on: Should a battery or charging system warning light illuminate, a mechanic should perform a few basic tests to determine if a battery replacement is needed.
- Electrical components don’t work: once a battery has started to fail, and the voltage produced by the battery drops, then vehicle electrical components can malfunction, such as the security system.
If you are experiencing electrical malfunctions, it’s a smart idea to have the battery tested and possibly replaced.
23 - How Often Should I Have My Car Serviced?
Typically, you should service your car every year or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Always check your owner’s manual for specific advice related to your vehicle. If you notice any unusual changes or warning lights, get your car checked immediately. Regular services help prevent costly future repairs.
24 - What is an AC Recharge?
A car AC recharge replaces your old refrigerant with new refrigerant. This is a fairly simple process, but our technicians take extra time and care to inspect your car’s AC system, run various tests to detect any serious issues or leaks that are causing the temperature discrepancies, evaluate the situation and then relay what additional actions or repairs need to be taken, if any.
25 - Car AC: Repair or Recharge?
Although an AC recharge can restore the cold temperatures you’re used to, the “fix” might only be a temporary one, depending on what caused the temperature change in the first place.
If your car’s air conditioning system has trouble staying reliably cold, even after a recharge, it can be evidence of a refrigerant leak or worse, necessitating repairs.
26 - How Often Should I Replace My Air Filter?
For more specific details regarding your vehicle’s maintenance needs, check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended interval for air filter replacement. That said, check your filter regularly in case it needs to be replaced sooner than the manual suggests.
27 - Should I Rebuild or Replace My Engine?
Whether to rebuild or replace your engine is a major choice. Rebuilding fixes the broken parts, which can be cheaper if the damage isn’t too bad. Replacing gives you a brand-new engine but costs more. To decide, get a mechanic to check your engine’s condition and think about your car’s age and mileage.
28 - Why Does Your Car Break Down in Summer?
Some of the most common reasons your car breaks down in Summer include, but are not limited to:
- Heat and Battery Woes – Excessive heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, leading to corrosion on terminals and connections. As a result, your battery may die without warning.
- Overheating Engines – Engine overheating is a common issue, as the cooling system works harder to keep it from getting too hot in the Summer. If your coolant levels are low or the coolant is not in good condition, your vehicle is at risk.
- Oil and Fluid Levels – Engine fluids lubricate and serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from the vehicle’s vital components. In summer, your car’s fluids are more likely to deplete.
- Fuel System Issues – The fuel pump can also get overworked in the summer heat, and may fail if it’s been showing signs of wear.
The summer heat can put extra strain on your vehicle, leading to an increased risk of breakdowns. However, with regular checks of your car’s battery, cooling system, tires, and fluid levels, you can reduce the chance of facing a breakdown during the hot months.
29 - How Often Should I Change Transmission Fluid?
How often you should change your transmission fluid depends on your car and how you use it. Check your car’s manual for advice. Many say to change the fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Some even say 100,000 miles. If you drive hard, like towing things or a lot of stop-and-go traffic, you might need to change it more often. If you suspect you have low transmission fluid levels or are in need of transmission repair services, let us know!
30 - Should I Rebuild or Replace My Transmission?
Deciding to rebuild or replace your transmission is a big decision. Rebuilding fixes the broken parts, which might be cheaper but might not fix everything. Replacing it is more expensive but gives your car a fresh start. Talk to a mechanic you trust to help you decide what’s best.
31 - Can Rebuilding My Engine or Transmission Save Money?
Rebuilding your car’s engine or transmission as opposed to replacing them entirely can indeed save you money, but it depends on various factors, including the extent of the damage, the age and model of your car, and the labor costs in your area.
While rebuilding can potentially save money, it is essential to get a thorough diagnostic from a trusted mechanic to weigh the pros and cons in your specific situation. Sometimes, investing in a new engine or transmission can offer a longer-term benefit and peace of mind compared to rebuilding the existing one. It is always recommended to approach a decision like this with detailed information and advice from a professional.
32 - Why You Need Scheduled Maintenance
Scheduled maintenance for your car can provide numerous benefits, ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently for a long time. Here are some key advantages:
- Prevents Larger Problems: Regular maintenance can help in identifying small issues before they become big, expensive problems. For instance, a minor oil leak today could lead to a major engine failure tomorrow if not addressed on time.
- Saves You Money: While you might think that skipping maintenance can save you money, it can actually end up being costlier in the long run. Scheduled maintenance helps avoid major breakdowns that can come with a hefty price tag for repairs.
- Increases Safety: Keeping your car well-maintained means you’re ensuring all safety systems are functioning properly, which reduces the risk of accidents caused by mechanical failure.
- Prolongs Your Vehicle’s Lifespan: Regular maintenance keeps your car in the best possible condition, helping to extend its lifespan and maintain its value.
- Better Fuel Efficiency: A well-maintained engine runs more efficiently and can give you better gas mileage, saving you money at the pump.
- Enhanced Performance: Keeping all systems in your car running properly will lead to better performance. You will notice smoother steering, better handling, and a more responsive engine.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing that your car is in good condition gives you peace of mind while driving. You can trust that your vehicle will get you to your destination safely and without issues.
- Higher Resale Value: A well-maintained car can fetch a higher price in the market compared to one with numerous undressed issues.
Remember to adhere to the maintenance schedule as outlined in your vehicle’s manual to reap all these benefits. It is a straightforward way to keep you safe on the road and protect your investment.
33 - Can I Go To You For A Second Opinion?
Seeking a second opinion from a local mechanic after visiting a dealership can offer a range of benefits and reassurances for car owners. Here are a few reasons why:
- Cost Savings: Often, local mechanics might provide services at a more affordable rate compared to dealerships, which have higher overhead costs.
- Personalized Service: Local mechanics tend to offer more personalized services. They can take time to explain the problem in detail, providing you with a deep understanding of the issue at hand, which is something large dealerships might not offer.
- Unbiased Opinion: Sometimes dealerships might recommend services that are not strictly necessary, hoping to upsell and increase their profit margin. A local mechanic, particularly one you have a long-standing relationship with, is more likely to give you an honest and unbiased assessment of the necessary repairs.
- Supporting Local Businesses: By choosing a local mechanic for a second opinion, you are supporting small businesses in your community, which in turn helps in promoting local economic growth.
- Experienced Perspective: Local mechanics often have years of experience working on a wide range of vehicles, and might offer insights and solutions that a dealership overlooks.
After visiting the dealership, going to a local mechanic ensures that you are not only potentially saving money but also fostering relationships with local businesses and benefitting from seasoned expertise in vehicle maintenance and repairs. It promotes a fair market by encouraging competition and allows you to receive services that are grounded in community and experience.
34 - How Should I Prepare My Car For Winter?
Most vehicle owners don’t realize how much the weather affects their vehicle’s performance. As such, here are some of the most basic preventative measures you can take to make sure your car is ready for the cold weather:
- Check Your Fluid Levels:
Checking your car’s fluids before and during Winter is crucial. Look for the correct levels of engine oil and antifreeze, along with brake and power steering fluids.
- Inspect Wipers:
Inspecting your current wipers, and replacing them is integral for visibility during rain, sleet, and snow storms.
- Make Sure Defrosters Work:
With the risk of ice and frost forming on your car and obstructing your vision, your defrosters are absolutely critical during the Winter months.
- Check Your Battery:
The last place you want your battery to die is in the freezing cold, or worse, in the middle of a snowstorm. Batteries tend to die more often in the winter because of the strain of the cold weather.
- Check Your Tire Pressure:
Once the temperature drops, tires tend to lose some of their pressure.
- Have Your Brakes Inspected:
Your brakes are under much more strain during winter than in other seasons. Not just the cold air but the moisture from snow and salt from the roads can cause rust and damage.
Keep your car healthy by contacting Bradley’s Auto Service in Red Bank, NJ today! Our ASE-certified mechanics have built a reputation for providing honest, professional auto services and have experience with all makes and models.
Whether it’s the changing weather of Autumn, the dog days of Summer, or the dead cold of Winter, Bradley’s Auto Service in Red Bank, NJ has you covered all year round! Contact us today.