Rush Automotive AutoNet TV
Life's full of surprises in Austin Texas, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. Rush Automotive of Austin Texas and AutoNetTV have done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.
Everyone in Austin Texas does our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What's hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That's because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.
Let's take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.
You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it's a much more expensive proposition to replace it.
Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can't be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.
So we all benefit in Austin Texas from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.
There's a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.
Let's suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Austin Texas. It's now paid for and you'd like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds' True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle's data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it'll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Austin Texas, manufacturers' recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.
Of course these are just estimates – there's no way to predict what'll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it's a good starting point.
The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.
Let's focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.
So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you'd go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.
Of course, you can't predict when something will go wrong or what it'll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.
Some people around Austin Texas are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That's fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you'll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.
Get with your Austin Texas service advisor at Rush Automotive and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.
You can visit Rush Automotive at 16421 Farm to Market 1325 in Austin, Texas 78728 or just give us a call at 512-733-7874.
Posted in the Maintenance category
A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the news. Austin people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel economy and receive a government rebate.
A lot of Austin motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their sedans for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.
There are plenty of Austin drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own sedans on the road in Texas.
Austin drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change. That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your sedan's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine.
There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Austin car owners. It’s simple – a Rush Automotive professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Rush Automotive technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.
Your Rush Automotive advisor will also visually inspect your sedan for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.
And your Rush Automotive advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Austin dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.
Realistically, things are going to wear out as your sedan gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.
Of course, these things cost money, but they are far cheaper than new sedan payments. With proper service at Rush Automotive and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Most people in the Austin area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Round Rock, Cedar Park and Pflugerville in Texas.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your sedan. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your sedan engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your sedan. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Austin service advisor at Rush Automotive by calling 512-733-7874. You'll find our shop located at 16421 Farm to Market 1325 in Austin, Texas 78728.
You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your sedan. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your sedan owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when you're out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You'll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse - you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.
The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.
There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension - it should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, a technician at Rush Automotive can determine the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.
16421 Farm to Market 1325
Austin, Texas 78728
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Posted in the Alignment category
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 Texas 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 Austin 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 Cedar Park or Pflugerville service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Posted in the Maintenance category
How do you know if an odometer is telling the truth?
Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect Texas consumers against mileage fraud. It says a Texas seller must certify the mileage reported is the Actual Mileage.
To have your odometer checked in Austin Texas, stop by Rush Automotive:
16421 Farm to Market 1325
Austin, Texas 78728
If it isn't, the seller must say why; like maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 miles and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.
If the seller tells you the mileage isn’t accurate, there’s not much chance of putting a good number to it; And there’s the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it’s not so. What can you do?
First, you can go to www.CarFax.com, where for a small fee, they’ll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your sedan, showing local Austin Texas ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, Manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.
You can get a mileage history by checking with the local Austin Texas DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car’s bought and sold. If there are signs odometer rollback, now you’ll now.
If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There’s always another.
Posted in the Older Vehicles category
There's not much we can do about the price of gas in Austin Texas, but we do quite a bit about how much we use as we're driving on our Austin streets.
Our driving habits can dramatically affect our fuel economy.
The first thing we can do is watch the 'go-pedal'. Hard acceleration just sucks the gas. Gently leave stop lights and plan lane changes so you don't need to floor it. That can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Go a little slower on the freeway to Austin. Once you're going more than sixty-five miles an hour your fuel economy starts to drop dramatically. Leave early so you don't need to rush to be on time. And cruise control is your friend – steady speed uses less gas.
Plan errands ahead. Make fewer trips by combining errands.
Hey at current gas prices, a lead-foot might as well be a gold foot.
16421 Farm to Market 1325
Austin, Texas 78728
Posted in the Fuel System category
We find that a lot of Austin service and repair at Rush Automotive are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions, but don't want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because cars have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn't need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.
You know, your local hospital has a Patient's Bill of Rights that they post throughout the hospital. We think our Austin automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.
It's all about the communication. It's a little harder when you're trying to find the right service center in Austin. But once you've developed a relationship, the communication should come easier.
What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, let's go back to the medical example. When your doctor's explaining something to you, it's something that she understands very well and is very familiar with. So she may use jargon you don't understand or that you don't have the education and training that's foundational to understanding what she's trying to explain.
So you fall behind and get frustrated.
It can be the same with your Austin automotive service advisors. Most of them are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get their customers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.
Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you're not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there's a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what's done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.
Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your Austin service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt part or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.
Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Your service center and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.
Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that's done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.
Call Rush Automotive to make an appointment.
16421 Farm to Market 1325
Austin, Texas 78728
Posted in the Service Standards category
People near Austin Texas often ask Rush Automotive how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual, or have your Austin Texas service advisor at Rush Automotive look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.
One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Austin Texas will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that'.
Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.
- Most of your trips are less than four miles.
- Most of your trips are less than ten 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.
- Drive with a car-top carrier.
- Stop and go driving.
- Driving in very hot or very cold weather.
If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I'm on the freeway.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Austin. Occasionally we load up for family trips.
For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.
Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles. Your Austin Texas auto service advisor at Rush Automotive will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.
Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren't as effective.
Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.
If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.
So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
Everyone in Austin Texas has blind spots – and no, I'm not talking about the fact that you really don't sing like Jessica Simpson. I mean the areas of the road that you can't see when you're driving around Austin.
First let's talk about our own blinds spots, and then we can talk about others...
To begin, we can greatly reduce our blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments in your sedan before you start to drive.
First, adjust your rear view mirror to give the best possible view directly to the rear of your car. You don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or your dazzling smile. The rear view mirror should look to the rear.
Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car.
We're on 16421 Farm to Market 1325 in Austin, Texas (78728)
Call us to make an appointment at 512-733-7874.
Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car.
With your mirrors adjusted this way, you'll have maximum coverage. Of course driving is a dynamic process – things change every second. So it's wise to take a quick look to the side when passing to make sure that another vehicle hasn't moved into an area you couldn't see in your mirrors.
Depending on the kind of vehicle you drive (sedan?), you may still have some blind spots. All vehicles have an area behind them that's blind when backing up. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. A pick up or SUV can hide a small child – an RV, bus or tractor-trailer can hide an entire vehicle. So be careful around our Austin streets!
As you drive around the Austin area, avoid staying in other diver's blind spots. You can't count on them to be watching their mirrors and looking out for you.
Let's talk about safely sharing the road with heavy trucks and buses. In crashes involving a truck and car, the car causes about 40 percent of the accidents. But 78 percent of the fatalities are with the car. The laws of physics are against the smaller vehicle, so it pays to take extra precautions around trucks and buses.
Heavy vehicles have huge blind spots: to the rear, on both sides and up front. They also can't maneuver like a car. They take twice as long to stop and need twice as much space as you do in your sedan or other type of car. You need to keep wide margins when driving around one of these big rigs.
Here are some tips for passing a heavy vehicle in the Austin area:
- Avoid the blind spots. If you can't see the driver's face in one of his mirrors or in a window, he cannot see you!
- Don't follow too close. If you can't see one of the truck's mirrors, you're too close.
- Make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Trucks are long and take time to get around. If you're on one of our local Austin Texas two way highways, wait for a passing zone.
- Don't linger when passing. Because the blind spots are so big on the sides, you want to get through them quickly. If you can't pass quickly, drop back.
- Pass on the left whenever possible. A trucks' blind spot is much larger on the right.
- Be attentive and wear your seat belts while driving anywhere around Austin, even short drives.
- Don't be aggressive when driving around trucks. Because of their size, they appear to be going slower than they really are. Cutting it short around a truck could be disastrous.
- Use your turn signals when starting to pass. Once you can see the full truck in your rear view mirror, it's safe to signal and move over. Don't cut it short or slow quickly when you pull in front of a truck.
- Be careful passing a truck at an intersection. Trucks need to turn wide to maneuver through city streets. Squeezing between a truck and the curb could put your car in the Austin body shop. Look for the truck's turn signals.
We at Rush Automotive want you to watch those blind spots – but feel free to sing in the shower all you want.
Posted in the Automotive News category