Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Wilmington?
Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in Wilmington – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in Wilmington.
Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.
Contact Atlantic Car Care for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced. Find us at 21 New Bern Street, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403 You can reach us by phone at: 9107941390
There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.
That is definitely one car part you don’t want to take a chance with, so Atlantic Car Care recommends following these guidelines:
Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Atlantic Car Care).
Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer, or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.
For more information, contact Mike at Atlantic Car Care by calling 9107941390.
Sometimes we hear people say, “What’s up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don’t break down.” While it is true that today’s cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don’t realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today’s automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle’s components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don’t think we’re using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance – but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.
The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged – just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.
Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the North Carolina safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind – over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don’t skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Wilmington service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.
Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy’s little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn’t get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire – so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later – and then an alignment.
Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son’s maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done – it cost several hundred dollars. His wife’s car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does – every time he passes a big-screen TV.
We’re talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It’ll show potential buyers that you’ve taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren’t any, assume that the maintenance hasn’t been done and take it to your Burgaw or Leland service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Today in our Atlantic Car Care blog, we’re going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your sedans isn’t the only aspect of your life in Wilmington with recommended intervals: Let’s start with twice yearly dental check-ups and regular physical exams. How about laundry, watering the lawn and paying the bills?
Now, what would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You’d may not discover health conditions that could be more effectively treated with early detection. And you’d have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your brown lawn and have your utilities shut off.
Clearly, there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life in Wilmington takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.
So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our sedanss? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don’t seem that urgent. All our Wilmington neighbors can see our dead lawn, but no one knows how dirty our transmission fluid is. It’s easy to put off. The other reason is that we’re just not as familiar with automotive maintenance, so it’s a bit intimidating.
From a practical standpoint, Wilmington people don’t need to memorize their sedans owner’s manuals. You can let your Atlantic Car Care advisor remind you of the guidelines established by vehicle manufacturers: he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your sedans. You really can rely on Atlantic Car Care professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.
For Wilmington drivers who want to be more proactive with their sedans care, here are some simple ways for Wilmington car owners to remember what has a maintenance interval.
First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.
Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, don’t forget brakes and shock absorbers.
And what makes your sedans go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Wilmington car owners remember to take their car or truck in to Atlantic Car Care for these things, their service advisor will help them with the rest.
And if you don’t follow recommended service intervals? You get lousy fuel economy, your sedans doesn’t run as well, your safety is compromised and you’ll spend more money in the long run. So it’s the same as everything else: The quality of your motoring life takes a hit and it ends up costing you more.
Reason enough for me to follow recommended service intervals.
There’s a segment of the Heampstead population that’s not committed to proper vehicle maintenance. Mistaken perceptions have crept into the North Carolina area over time. Many Heampstead motorists think the root lies in the fact that modern cars are so reliable. Reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. Quality surveys report fewer problems with new cars than ever before.
Back when cars spent more time in the repair shop, Heampstead drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it’s much easier to put it off.
Take tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. The ignition points had to be replaced, spark plugs and coils replaced and the timing adjusted. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy.
Now, the ignition system in your sedans is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a hundred thousand miles. So tune-ups used to force you in to Atlantic Car Care for service and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.
Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new cars in Heampstead have been leased. These folks plan on turning the car in after two or three years, so they haven’t focused on the maintenance that helps your car last longer.
Given all that, what’s the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your sedans will perform better and return better fuel economy.
Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren’t just repairs that are a long ways off. Modern sedans engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.
And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.
For example, your sedans engine coolant could actually become so corrosive that it eats holes in your radiator or other cooling system parts. Of course, that could lead to massive engine damage, all for the want of replacing the coolant on schedule.
Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Atlantic Car Care, we have been taking care of all those little things for 4.5 years. Your sedans still needs to be taken care of – it’s just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Heampstead did not go away.
Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Wilmington North Carolina customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you’re driving around Wilmington North Carolina in the summer.
The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most vehicles. Those pumps make the pressure that assists your steering and braking.
In many vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Wilmington North Carolina, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of work for one belt.
But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles.
Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Wilmington North Carolina area. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s getting close to failing.
Atlantic Car Care can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt – replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? It’s out of there.
What’s involved in replacing the belt? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.
This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV recommends replacing them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Wilmington North Carolina streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on our local Wilmington North Carolina freeway, it can be a little scary. Often the first thing you notice is that you have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.
Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is very critical because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Pull over as quickly as you safely can. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling and pulled over as soon as possible.
The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car won’t run and will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Wilmington North Carolina traffic.
Remember, this does not have to happen if you replace your serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your technician at Atlantic Car Care to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.
When money is tight and people are on a fixed budget, their natural response is to hold back on spending, especially when it comes to anything that we consider to be non-essential. Additionally, when people don’t have confidence in the future, we will become even more cautious about what we are spending our money on. It’s under these conditions that people need to step up to the plate and take really good care of their automobiles. As we all know, the cost of unexpected repairs can be financially devastating, and if you don’t have the money for repairs, you’ll more than likely don’t have the money to buy a new vehicle either.
So do this: Sit down with our service advisor or myself Mike Moore (owner) and we’ll help you understand that during these uncertain economic times, one of the best investments you could ever make is in properly maintaining your automobiles. We will discuss all of the cost-saving benefits of vehicle maintenance, and break the investment down into meaningful and digestible numbers that you can easily understand.
For example, you may discover that with the more popular vehicles, the actual investment in the maintenance services that our advisors are recommending works out to less than 50 cents a day, and what you get in return for that small investment is amazing. You will be protecting warranties,you will be protecting the value of the automobiles, you will be squeezing every mile out of every gallon of gasoline, and you will have the peace of mind that comes with having a well maintained vehicle. Perhaps most importantly, you will be reducing the risk of unexpected and costly failures that can be particularly crushing during these tough economic times. When you break down the cost to a daily amount, and are able to see all of these benefits for less than the price of morning coffee, the decision becomes a no-brainer.
While making the most of this maintenance you can also, help save our environment, by extending the life of your car to over 300,000 miles. It is our ethical responsibility to help. Most of the time we can see just how crucial maintenance is when it comes to protecting our safety, the safety of our families, vehicles, environment and without question, our checkbooks too.
So stop by today for a “NO COST” Auto Heath Inspection.
In our auto video today we’ll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that “modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free”.
Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Wilmington Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn’t so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.
Here are some examples for our friends in Wilmington.
Some cars in Wilmington no longer require chassis lubrication. They’re made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There’s literally is no way to grease those joints.
-Chalk one up for the myth.
On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn’t even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.
So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.
-A point to maintenance.
Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.
-Myth gets a point.
Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.
-Point for maintenance.
I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they’ve always been.
So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Wilmington if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there’ll always be a check list.
Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.
It’s cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines’ maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.
So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don’t want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner’s manual or ask your Wilmington service advisor at Atlantic Car Care to check on the recommendation right away.
Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it’s cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That’ll cost 5 or 6 times as much.
For our friends in Wilmington, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Atlantic Car Care. You’ll find us at 21 New Bern Street in Wilmington, North Carolina 28403. Just give us a call at 9107941390.
Your vehicle manufacturer publishes two auto maintenance schedules. The regular schedule and the severe service schedule. It’d be wrong for us to tell you that everyone in Wilmington always needs to follow the severe service schedule – but its wishful thinking to say that the regular schedule is always good enough for your sedans.
Contact Atlantic Car Care to learn more about Severe Service Requirements for your sedans You can find us at: 21 New Bern Street Wilmington, North Carolina 28403 Or call us at 9107941390
At Atlantic Car Care we’ll give you the definitions and explain the issues, and you can be the judge. Most manufactures list the following as severe conditions:
Most of your trips are less than four miles.
Most of your trips are less than 10 miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway.
You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
Driving in very hot or very cold weather.
So think about your typical week. Do you live a block from a North Carolina freeway on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute to work in Burgaw or Leland? Or are you like the rest of us where 90% of our trips are on the severe service list?
The answer may be different at different times of the year and for the different drivers in your family. Think of the two service schedules as bookends. Let’s suppose your owner’s manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Look at your driving patterns and Wilmington road conditions and honestly evaluate which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.
If you have a job in a neighboring town such as Heampstead or Burgaw and most of your commute is freeway miles, you may choose the regular service schedule for your car. On the other hand, if you live within a few miles of work and only get on the highway a handful of times every month, something closer to the severe service schedule is more appropriate.
Now why is this so important? Moisture builds up in the engine oil from normal condensation. Short trips around Wilmington or driving when it’s really cold means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil leads to oil sludge that gums up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it as well. That’s why you need to change your oil more frequently – to get the sludge out before it causes problems.
Towing, heavy loads and very hot North Carolina summer weather means that your engine and transmission will operate at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Dusty conditions, which may extend also to areas with high air pollution, mean that fluids will get dirty faster and that filters will plug up and won’t work right.
All of these things can lead to premature wear and repairs down the road. They’ll also hurt your fuel economy. If you want some personalized advice, talk with your Honest Atlantic Car Care service advisor. We can help you restore your vehicle to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow. If you’re not sure, err on the side of protection.
Watch our informative AutoNetTV auto video tips at the top of this post.
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Wilmington North Carolina: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Wilmington North Carolina motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.
Because new cars are more expensive, people in the Wilmington area are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in Wilmington have more than 75,000 miles. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today’s cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin’.
Give Atlantic Car Care a call to schedule your next maintenance. 21 New Bern Street Wilmington, North Carolina 28403 9107941390
Some owner’s manuals don’t specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done. In fact, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles.
First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that’s recommended every 15,000 miles should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule – ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks – seals and gaskets dry out over time and don’t hold the fluids as well as they used to.
It’s also time to make sure you have a good Wilmington North Carolina technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble’s brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.
And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car’s appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it’s way cheaper than a new car payment!
Your car is important to you and keeping it running is vital to your Wilmington lifestyle. That’s why you should have it serviced regularly at Atlantic Car Care. And even though it may just be routine maintenance, you want it done right.
It’s also very important to your Wilmington service center to keep you happy and on the road. You might be surprised at the amount of money our Wilmington service center spends every year to make sure our technicians are properly trained.
Atlantic Car Care offers a variety of car care services to many kinds of vehicles. We need to be up to date on the latest techniques and parts so that they can care for your car properly. Our Wilmington centers subscribe to data services that list the high quality parts and fluids recommended by your manufacturer.
And each service has a checklist of standard procedures. Atlantic Car Care technicians follow these procedures so they can safely deliver a consistent level of high-quality service.
Some services require the use of specialized equipment. Atlantic Car Care technicians are trained extensively on this equipment so that they can service your car quickly and efficiently.
Classroom, video and hands-on training is provided by the company and outside trainers. It’s not only important that service technicians be able to perform a given task, they also need to be thoroughly trained in inspection and diagnostic techniques. One of the great services they perform is to spot potential problems before they become serious.
The automotive service industry has standards for classifying and communicating problems to customers. For example, it’s one thing to learn that your manufacturer recommends that you change your serpentine belt every 30,000 miles and another to learn that the belt is on the verge of failure. These standards help you understand the urgency of recommendations, letting you make better service decisions.
You may be interested to know that service technicians are trained in compliance with federal and local Wilmington laws and regulations, including environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used parts and fluids.
It’s the goal of our Wilmington service center to provide fast, courteous service. You should feel free to ask your technician or one of the managers about your service or for more information about their recommendations.
Well-trained service providers, established procedures, industry standards, and, of course, AutoNetTV, combine to give you the best service experience possible.