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Auto Service

Essential test drive tips

Taking a test drive is one of the most important steps of the car buying process – it’s your way of making sure that vehicle you have researched and reviewed meets your expectations.

A test drive also offers a first opportunity to check that you’ll enjoy driving the car once you have bought it.

Taking a test drive is even more important if you’re planning on buying a used, or nearly new car. It’s your only chance to make sure the vehicle is in good condition and free of faults – if you don’t feel confident doing this, we recommend you book a qualified engineer to check the car on your behalf.

Don’t be afraid to ask to take a car out more than once. Dealers will be keen to close the deal, but If you’re close to making a decision, going back for an extended drive is the best way to confirm that those good first impressions are here to last.
Insurance

Before you even think of taking to the driver’s seat, make sure you are insured to carry out the test drive.
Dealers will have cover specifically for this purpose, but if you test drive a used or nearly-new car being sold by a private vendor, you’ll need to use your own.
If you are unsure, talk to your insurer. They will be able to offer you comprehensive cover over a short period of time so that you can test drive the cars you are thinking of buying.

Seats

Make sure you can adjust the seat and the steering wheel so you’ve got a comfortable driving position.
If a car has removable seats, ensure that they fit securely and that none of the connectors are damaged.
If you plan to use child seats, take them with you and make sure that they fit.

Engine

If you plan to buy a nearly new car, make sure that the engine’s cold before you start it – by placing your hand on the bonnet.
If the car feels warm, find out why, and bear in mind that the seller could be trying to hide a problem.
When the car starts, look in the rear view mirror to check for signs of smoke.
On the road, the car should accelerate smoothly.

Suspension

Make sure there are no unusual clunks or bangs from the suspension.
Check that the car doesn’t bounce or roll unevenly through corners.
Broken springs, a fault you may find on a used car, will reduce road grip and braking performance.

Steering

With the car stationary, turn the steering wheel from lock-to-lock to check that its action feels smooth and is free from resistance.
Check the turning circle in a car park to make sure it meets your needs.
Check that that the wheels do not rub on the bodywork while you drive forward on full lock.

Brakes

The brakes should respond immediately, and not need pumping or pressing very hard to make work.
There should be no loud noises from the brakes, however hard you use them.

Gearbox

Gears should be easy to engage, and the action should feel consistent.
Automatic gearboxes should swap gears smoothly and quickly.
If the clutch doesn’t engage until the pedal has reached the top of its travel, it may need to be changed.

Family

Take your family with you if plan to travel with them regularly.
They will help you spot problems with practicality and versatility.

Categories
Auto Service

I Want to Open a Detail Shop

Are you a car lover? If you are a car lover and are considering a business of your own, perhaps you might consider starting an automobile detailing shop. Generally there are two types of customers who will want to use your service. There is the retail detail customer and the wholesale auto detail customer.

Both of these two types of customers can be lucrative if you’re careful which services you offer and how you go about marketing your company. The retail detail customer would be the private car owner who loves their car sometimes more than their own children. Much of their love of the American automobile is tradition and some is ego driven. Neither of which should matter to you as you were should be more concerned about making money.

If your auto detail shop has a great reputation around town and plenty of referrals you may find yourself able to charge upwards of $180 to detail and SUV or $135 for a regular car. The wholesale auto detail customer would be a car lot, which has used cars that are traded in and need to be brought up to show room condition. Some auto dealers will go to the auctions in order to put used cars on their lots. Many used car lots will also go to the auto auctions and they will want those cars detailed so they can put pristine automobiles in their showroom and on their lot.

Additionally new car dealerships often have customization requests from customers such as pin-striping, special sealant protectors and custom graphics. All of these aftermarket auto accessory type services can provide your shop with more profits. An auto detailing shop is a very labor-intensive business and you’ll have to watch management issues, but it can be lucrative business if you are careful with the market mix, the services you offer and the quality of the services you perform. Consider all this in 2006 and good luck.

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Auto Service

Tips live AC

Yes. If we want to turn the AC on the car, do it at low RPM. RPM position (or rotation per minute) at low engine idle there, when we did not step on the gas pedal. Steps like these we need to do if we want to take care of air conditioning. The technical reason is actually very simple steps. That is, in order to avoid friction between the pulley and the overly harsh pressure plate (pressure plate) on the AC compressor. Pulley and pressure plate is a very important component in the air conditioning system work. Pressure plate is the component that serves as a liaison so that the air conditioning compressor shaft to rotate. Duties as a liaison was only able to run after the pressure plate attached to the pulley. Pressure plate will be close (to adhere) to the pulley when we turn on the air conditioner.

The problem, pulley is always spinning components for engine life. And, pulley rotation is changing. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. High and low pulley hanging round the engine. Pulley will turn faster when the engine per minute (RPM) high. Conversely, slower when low rpm per minute. Of work that we can predict, when it is appropriate to attach the pressure plate to the pulley. And we can imagine what would happen if we put a pressure plate when the spins very fast. On lap faster, the friction between the surface of the pressure plate and pulley will be very hard. If this practice continues to happen, the two components of friction surfaces will quickly wear out. When already worn out, the next effect is tedious: rotary power engine to its full potential can not be forwarded to the AC compressor. Engineers call this condition the term slip.

There are two effects that are generally advanced riders feel if slip occurs. First, the AC was not cold enough. Second, there was a noise on the AC compressor. The impact that makes us uncomfortable, is not it? Therefore, if you want to turn on the air conditioner, do it at low RPM.

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Auto Service

Mobile Auto Detailing for Car Leasing Companies

If you own a mobile detailing business and you are looking to increase your customer base or clientele you may wish to look in your local phone book under Car Leasing Companies and contact them to see if they need auto detailing services. Auto Leasing Companies make very good customers for many reasons. How so you ask?

Well let’s take one company, a large one; Enterprise Car Leasing. Enterprise Car Leasing is a great place to find business for a mobile auto detailer and they need good, reliable service. The Enterprise Company and their sales teams, through leads coming in from Enterprise, find customers who wish to lease cars and the Enterprise Leasing team finds the car they want and helps them buy it for a great price.

They will also have you detail these cars if they cannot get the dealership to do it. Many times the dealerships which sell to car leasing companies sell these cars so cheap on a fleet deal that there is really no money in the deal to pay for the car dealership to detail it and Enterprise or any car leasing company cannot really deliver a new car to a customer all dirty.

Enterprise makes about $500 profit on the deal and also money from their own in house financing division. It is a good way to buy a car and not get screwed for the business customer and Enterprise wants happy customers. They will send you business if you ask them for it. New car detailing for Enterprise needs to be at or near $60-85 per car and they often buy seal coats for another $100 and pass it on to customers for $200 or more.

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Auto Service

Tips to Avoid Auto Theft

I live in Detroit: one of the cities with the highest rates of auto theft in the nation. Here are some tips from an expert on how to avoid getting your car (or any of the contents of your car) stolen.

Be a Smart Parker

Remember to always park your car in well-light areas. Having your car in a high traffic area is also a good idea. You might even consider getting assigned parking at a lot with an attendant if you are concerned about your car.

Car Alarm Fallacies

Car alarms might sound like a great safety feature, but they might just be one more of the bells and whistles. You can put a sticker on your car that says that it has a car alarm without actually including the car alarm. You will save money this way. You will also save yourself (and others) headaches when people accidentally brush against your car.

Lock it Up

Almost half of all car thefts are performed when an owner leaves the car unlocked. This could mean that they forget to lock their car once, or it could also mean that they leave their car running while they just run in to do an errand. Turn your car off, take your keys, and lock your car whenever you leave it. It is also better for the environment if you turn your car off instead of idling it. You should also consider locking your garage door if you are using a garage. This brings me to another point: always park in a garage when possible.

Make it Less Attractive

Take away all of your belongings with you when you leave your car. This means that you should move any bags to the trunk, and make sure that there are no valuable visible from outside the car. If you can remove your car stereo, place it in the glove compartment or a similar out-of-sight place. Even something that seems as harmless as a glasses case could cause a thief to choose your car instead of another car, so be cautious when you leave your car.

Invest in some Safety

Having a steering wheel lock (such as the club) might not make it that much more difficult for a thief to steal your car, but it might also make them think twice. You don’t even have to lock your steering wheel lock if you find it too cumbersome to use.

Vehicle Identification Numbers are numbers that are etched into cars at various places, including on the windows and major parts. Thieves will be know where to look for vehicle identification numbers, and might avoid stealing a car with VIN etching because the parts will be harder to use, and the car will be easier for police to trace.

Ignition-kill switches and fuel-kill switches are other anti-theft devices that you can consider for you car.

Sometimes getting anti-theft devices can lower your insurance premiums, and so will be a good investment for the future. You might even end up saving money and gaining a peace of mind with them!

Think of the tow-away

Sometimes cars are not stolen by hotwiring, but rather, by being towed away. If you park with your tires facing the curb, it will make it more difficult for a thief to tow your car away. Using your emergency brake will also prevent being towed.

Car theft is not a pretty thought. Cars are large investments and you want to protect your investment. Thinking ahead can prevent some unpleasant reactions.

Categories
Auto Service

Custom Fitted Car Covers – For the Best Exterior Protection

Car covers that are custom fitted – now that’s a thing that you may have never considered. But that is definitely one thing that you should consider. Why? We will get to that later. But first let’s see what we mean by car covers that are custom fitted.

A custom fitted car cover is the one that fits your car as per its measurements, one that has pockets for your side mirrors and stays on the body of your car and is not blown off by wind or rain. Now isn’t that something worth a few bucks? But don’t just think that the benefits of a custom fitted cover ends there. Such a cover can give your car lot of protections.

o Custom fitted covers generally have four layers. These layers are bound to protect your car from moisture, road salt, acid rain, hail and sleet.

o A car parked outside without a cover can be very easily scarred by flying debris, dust and dirt. A custom fitted cover can guarantee better protection for your car’s body against the dust on the roads. Don’t let your car age in looks even before it is due.

o How many times have you had to shoo off the pigeon from depositing special debris on the body of your car? How many times have you had to shoo off the squirrel from concentrating on your car’s door? Or the crickets that enjoy the underneath of your car? Well, a custom fitted car cover is heavy duty, so whatever the elements of nature may want to do to your car, they will have to be happy with the car cover. There is no way that they can penetrate the cover.

 

o UV rays do not just harm your screen. Harmful sun rays harm your car’s body, its wax cover and its shine. Let the car cover take the toll of the sun’s assault while your car takes its much deserved break underneath it. Protect your car from the sun, use a custom fitted cover.

o Protect your car from getting banged by someone opening the doors of the car parked next to yours! Protect it from the impact a skateboarder running off balance might have on your car. Use a custom fitted cover and you will rest assured.

o Every time that you leave your car unattended your car draws unwanted attention form people. Some may just be hovering around and eyeing your car while other might be in the lurk of some cash that you may have left in your car, some other valuable like a cell phone may or your invaluable music system. A car cover can protect your car from such unwanted attention and give you the much needed peace of mind.

Custom fitted car covers are made for specific models like BMW, Honda and Ford, etc. So it is never like you have to use the cover made with the specifications of a different make. While shopping fro custom fitted car covers, look for ones with more layers for better durability and with side pockets for complete protection.

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Auto Service

Wholesale Auto Detailing – A Nice Business Model

Before retirement, I was in the franchise business, and amongst other things we franchised mobile auto detailing rigs around the country. Each time a new franchise buyer would contact me, I can see they had dollar signs in their eyes, and they were hoping to detail customers who might own a Ferrari, Bentley, or Rolls-Royce. The reality is that although there are plenty of customers with those types of vehicles, most detailers make their money detailing for the middle class.

Therefore most of the cars they are detailing our BMWs, Mercedes, Corvettes, Cadillac, Range Rovers, Jaguars, Lexus, and yes, the higher end vehicles too. But interestingly enough, if you really want to make a lot of money and auto detailing, it pays to have wholesale auto detailing accounts, and actually skip the personal cars. Of course, there isn’t as much prestige in doing it this way, but there is often less competition, and an abundance of work, in fact there is usually enough work in any given city to keep a crew of 10 people or more busy full-time.

Sometimes there is so much work you can’t get it all done, and you experience constant controlled chaos in your scheduling, and trying to keep track of it all. There are auto auctions, car dealerships, bank repos, and fleet vehicles. Wholesale auto detailing is a nice business model, and it’s much different than just concentrating on high-end cars for high net worth individuals. Often you will find the proprietor of a wholesale automotive detailing establishment with their sleeves rolled up, whereas you will find someone who does only prestigious automobiles sporting the fancy clothes, expensive watch, and fancy shoes – basically a ten-gallon hat, but no cattle.

The reality is that the chances are very good that the business owner engaged in the wholesale work is actually making quite a bit more money, and lives in a nicer house, and probably even drives a nicer automobile, might even own a private plane too. Perhaps it is for this reason that I always looked at the franchise buyers rather funny when they told me that they wanted to clean in detail very expensive cars for rich clientele. That might sound nice, but it’s not a very good business model as compared to automotive detailing at the wholesale level.

Interestingly enough, those companies that try to do both, often lose control of their shops. It’s almost as if they need to be in separate buildings, because the business models are so very different. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Categories
Auto Service

How to buy a car

You have picked the car that looks perfect for you, but what should you do next?

If you are buying new, you can choose to buy in a multitude of different ways. As well as traditional outlets like franchised dealers and brokers you can also buy online, and direct from the manufacturer.

While franchised dealers tend to operate from showrooms, brokers avoid glitzy sales facilities, and focus on reducing their overheads to keep prices low. Buying online can see cars delivered direct to your door – keeping the process as simple as possible.
Buying from dealers

Dealers are often a preferred choice because of their knowledgeable staff and in-house aftersales support systems. Many are linked to manufacturers, and include workshops which employ mechanics who specially  in a specific brand.

New car dealers offer the opportunity to touch and feel the new car you are interested in buying – and also offer test drives. Dealers may also offer to top up official manufacturer supplied warranties with their own, offering extra peace of mind.

Dealers are supplying direct from the manufacturer, which means you can choose every last detail of your new car’s specification. You will also be listed on the V5 registration document that comes with the car as the first owner – something that will add value to the car when you resell it.

BEST FOR:
Peace of mind
Full choice
Ease of purchase
Servicing and aftersales support
Deals on latest models
Will take trade-in vehicles
Finance packages to help you buy

BAD POINTS:
Higher prices
Sales staff often have an agenda
Prices are not transparent
May not be in a convenient location
Buying from brokers

Brokers manage the purchase process – which means you are paying them to buy a car for you. They are a good choice for people who don’t have a car to part-exchange, or are focused on getting the very best price… and are not too worried about choosing every last detail of the model they intend to buy.

Because they buy lots of cars, brokers get cheap prices by buying unsold stock. Cars are sometimes imported from overseas, where currency fluctuations, or inferior specification can make them cheaper. CarBuyer recommends you only buy UK supplied cars from a broker.

Cars from a broker are sometimes pre-registered, which means you will be listed on the vehicle’s V5 registration document as the second owner. This could have an effect on the length of the warranty offered by the car. Compared to franchised dealers, brokers choice can be limited by the stock they have access to, and you may have to compromise on specification.

BEST FOR:
Low prices
Transparent deals
Pressure free sales

BAD POINTS:
Long waiting times
Lack of dealer back up and knowledge
Lack of choice
Harder to check vehicle’s particulars
Buying online

You can already buy from brokers online, but manufacturers and dealers are also beginning to sell new cars online.

Manufacturer supported online sales offer transparent deals, without you needing to engage in negotiations with showroom staff. The system also offers agreed values for trade in cars, as well as finance options. As the service is still new, not all manufacturers are involved and choice is limited.

BEST FOR:
Ease of purchase
Servicing and aftersales support
Can offer deals on latest models
Will take trade in vehicles
Finance packages to help you buy

BAD POINTS:
Limited choice
Not all manufacturers signed up
Finally, read the small print

Wherever you end up buying, make sure you’re presented with a clear and final price for the car before you agree a sale.

It’s also worth making sure that the car you are buying is the very latest model.

When a new range is released there is sometimes an overlap where both the new and the old models are still able to be purchased. All sorts of extras can be added to the price, including VAT, number plates and delivery costs, so make sure these are included in the price you are quoted. Check the delivery date, it can take a number of months for a broker to supply the car you have chosen.

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Auto Service

Price negotiation tricks

Driving a hard bargain isn’t just about knocking down the price – it’s about making your money go further. It can also mean getting valuable optional extras thrown in for free, or upgrading to a higher trim level.

Haggling might not come naturally to all of us, but try to remain focused on your needs.

Dealers will be ready for you to negotiate – and will even start the discussion on price, if they think you are a serious buyer.

You’ll need the facts at your finger tips! The more information you have at your disposal the better, so it’s worth writing down everything you need to know before talking to a sales manager.
Check out the manufacturer’s website

Before you head for the showroom, it’s worth seeing if there’s anything in the manufacturers official online ‘offers’ section that applies to the car you are interested in buying.
If you’re planning on trading in your current car, then check its market value beforehand by looking at the prices of similar models for sale. Push the dealer into sticking as close to that price as possible. Ask if you can make up the difference with optional extras.
Be as open as possible, and answer the dealer’s questions in full. If you don’t tell them exactly what you want, you can’t expect them to be able to help you fully.

Paying in cash, or need a loan?

Finance deals are a great way to spread the cost of buying a car, but check the interest rates against loans from a high street bank to ensure you are being offered a competitive rate.
If you choose a Hire Purchase (HP) loan that includes an agreed buyback value, it’s possible that there will be restrictions on your new car’s use – like a set annual mileage. Make sure these are limits you can live with, as the penalties for going over can be quite high.
Even if you’re sure that this is the right car for you, be brave and talk up cheaper rivals while discussing the price. If the salesman thinks you might be put off by the higher cost, then he’s more likely to try and sweeten the deal to convince you – throwing in everything from metallic paint to a full tank of fuel.

Timing counts

The sales staff are likely to have targets to hit, so timing is a key factor in getting a good deal. Going in at the end of the month – when they’re close to their targets – can be a great way to get a bigger discount then normal.
The same applies logic applies in March and September, as this is when the registration plates change, and dealers will be keen to shift existing stock.

Categories
Auto Service

Free Car Washes and Customer Service for Mobile Detailers

A free car wash is a great tool to win happy customers and influence new business. It is also a guarantee to customers that if they are not 100% satisfied they will get a free car wash. No questions asked. You should use this technique whenever possible. Every single customer should leave with not only a clean car, but the feeling of just having had a positive experience. This turns into more referrals and happy customers who want more services. Of the many reasons people do not go to car washes, most have to do with customer satisfaction.

A good customer relations technique is to give someone a free car wash. Sometimes a customer may not have been happy with the previous week’s job. This may not totally be your fault, but nevertheless it’s your opportunity to turn their negative experience into a positive one and build your business in the process. We recommend giving a free car wash to anyone unhappy with a previous week’s wash.

Maybe this was the first time they used your service, and their friends have bragged about you so much that no matter how good you are their expectations have become unrealistic and can’t be met. Sometimes they might have a legitimate gripe, like a streaked window, a mirror that wasn’t wiped down, whatever. These things can be worked out. Offer to do their wash free this week. It’s easy and most people will take you up on it. It lets them know you’re serious about customer service – particularly their service. Many times if you offer they won’t accept, but it’s a nice thing to do. The next time you wash their car they may tip you, simply because they feel bad for having complained!

Always ask what it is they didn’t like about your service. It could very well be that their complaint is something you usually don’t look for, like not having wiped down between the grooves on the dashboard or a sticky residue on the center console, but they had assumed you would’ve seen it. Simply meet their needs. We actually got a complaint once about our best crew in Huntington Beach because they didn’t Armor All the inside of the glove box. Oh, by the way, don’t Armor All inside glove boxes. People hate that because it gathers dust afterwards.

You may wash a person’s car only to have them later park it where sprinklers go off and water spots are created. New customers might think you are to blame. Water spots left by our high-pressure systems are usually easy to detect. They are tiny, whereas a large white water spot is created by the calcified water that comes from sprinklers. Rather than argue the point, simply explain the difference and give them a free wash anyway.

 

Sometimes, a bird may come along and ruin all your hard work soon after you finish. You know, birds do sit on telephone poles and watch us work just getting ready to dive bomb the car the second we’re done. The cleaner and more attractive the car, the more the birds seem to like it. If this happens and the customer seems displeased with their Car Wash experience, you obviously have no control over the birds but you do have the ability to wash their car again for free and keep their business.

Money Back

A money-back guarantee is also a good customer satisfaction tool. Many times an unhappy customer won’t accept their money back. They would rather give you a second chance to do a good job. At this point, you should do the same as with a free wash. Give them a little extra attention, find out what they didn’t like and fix it immediately.

Mobile car washes and mobile auto detailers need to be proactive with their customer service policies. If you run a small business remember a little bit of “free service” goes a long way in keeping good customers coming back and promoted longevity and loyalty. It has always worked for us, it can work for you too. What is your favorite price? Think about.