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Ethics of Automotive Repair in Los Altos



We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Los Altos automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Los Altos has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Los Altos automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Los Altos service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Los Altos automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.

Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Allied Auto Works says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Allied Auto Works would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician's informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

The Importance of Los Altos Drivers Following Service Intervals

Today in our Allied Auto Works blog, we're going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your vehicle isn't the only aspect of your life in Los Altos 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 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 Los Altos takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.

So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our vehicles? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don't seem that urgent. All our Los Altos 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, people in Los Altos don't need to memorize their vehicle owner's manuals. You can let your Allied Auto Works advisor remind you of the guidelines established by the vehicle manufacturer; he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your vehicle. You really can rely on Allied Auto Works professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.

For Los Altos drivers who want to be more proactive with their vehicle care, here are some simple ways for you 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 vehicle go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Los Altos car owners remember to take their vehicle in to Allied Auto Works 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 vehicle 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.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

 

Categories:

Maintenance

Questions to Ask Your Los Altos Service Advisor



We find that a lot of Los Altos drivers are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions but don't want to be embarrassed or seem pushy. Vehicles are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because vehicles 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 Los Altos 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 Los Altos. 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 Los Altos 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 Los Altos 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 tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt 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.

Give us a call.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Which Item Is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Los Altos?


 

Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Los Altos?

Is it:

  1. Stereo
  2. Wheels
  3. Air Bag
  4. DVD System

Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in CA – 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 CA.

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 us at Allied Auto Works for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced.
Find us at 2073 Grant Road, Los Altos, CA 94024
You can reach us by phone at: 650.968.7227

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 Allied Auto Works recommends following these guidelines:

  • Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Allied Auto Works).

 

  • 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.

 

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Maintenance

Stop It! You Need Good Brakes

Good brakes are obviously very important. If you've ever had your brakes go out while you're driving around the Los Altos area, you'll know how terrifying it can be. Today we'll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem and how to make good repair choices.

Often, the first indication that something's wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.

Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It's an early warning indicator.

When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Allied Auto Works soon.

Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.

A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.

Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.

Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes Los Altos drivers insist on lower cost pads. That's OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the tradeoffs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you'll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won't last as long either. In our opinion, that's a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads at Allied Auto Works. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.

Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you've been driving with completely worn brake pads, you've scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren't too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.

Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that's thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

Something that's often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.

So here's the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos. Your service advisor can help you make the repair decision that's right for you.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Brakes

Tracking True in CA: Wheel Alignment in Los Altos

The biggest issue for Los Altos area drivers is always safety. When your vehicle wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you're vehicle is out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos.

When undergoing an alignment service at Allied Auto Works, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.

Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.

Los Altos drivers should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you're going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Los Altos service center look it over. If you've been in an auto accident in CA, you should get your alignment checked.

Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Los Altos area drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.

That's why we recommend periodic alignment checks. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't specify the interval, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with a service advisor at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos.

One thing's for sure: the cost of the alignment at Allied Auto Works is cheaper for Los Altos drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.

 Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

 

Categories:

Alignment

Your Well Trained Technician at Allied Auto Works

When your vehicle has a problem or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your vehicle's so important to your life in Los Altos, you need to get back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.

If you've ever checked into some of the technician training Allied Auto Works professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much specialized knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. For example: Today there are four cylinder engines that generate more power than the 1980s-era V-8's. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket's Ferrari in a race to 60 mph/100 kph.

Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Los Altos gas prices. They are also amazingly reliable: Kudos to the automotive engineers. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern vehicles driven around CA are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.

Some vehicles have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle operations as well. Los Altos motorists take all of this sophistication for granted, but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It's a real challenge for Allied Auto Works in Los Altos technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technicians and the Los Altos service centers as well.

Allied Auto Works technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Allied Auto Works by parts and equipment manufacturers, online courses and home study courses.

In addition to the expensive training, there's the financial commitment for Allied Auto Works to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools.

There are many independent certifications held by the pros at Allied Auto Works. The ability to repair your vehicle requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Los Altos auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even online communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It's like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what's the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. At Allied Auto Works, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and inexpensive – but sometimes it just isn't.

The next time you bring us your vehicle, don't worry. You're in good hands at Allied Auto Works.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Safety

Fuel Saving Tip: Dirty Oil in Your Los Altos Vehicle



If you're a quart low in your vehicle, there isn't enough motor oil to lubricate your engine properly. The extra friction causes drag that reduces fuel economy while you're driving around the Los Altos area.

The same goes for dirty oil; it doesn't reduce friction properly. The result is you get to watch those numbers at your local Los Altos gas pump rolling higher and higher.

The transmission also needs the proper amount of clean fluid to do its work. When it's in need of service, the transmission drags your fuel economy down.

So keep it clean at Allied Auto Works  and give yourself a fighting chance.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Fuel System

Why a Trip Inspection Is a Good Idea

At Allied Auto Works we get a lot of Los Altos drivers asking about vehicle trip preparation. That's a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas around CA, so it's important to know that the vehicle is up to the task and won't leave you stranded.

Smart Los Altos drivers plan ahead for a major road trip – and there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Los Altos to see if you can feel any vibrations: Are the wheels in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok? Come to Allied Auto Works for a peace-of-mind trip inspection.

2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles/120,000 km, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. 

How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?

How are your wiper blades? There's nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Los Altos.

Check your owner's manual for any other recommended services, and have Allied Auto Works in Los Altos do the multi-point inspection before you head out on your trip.

Consider also having the coolant system serviced at Allied Auto Works – you want to stay within the vehicle manufacture’s recommendations. If you're towing a trailer around CA you'll want to be keep in mind that you'll be going a long way under severe conditions.

A lot of Los Altos drivers overlook severe conditions like towing, CA summer heat or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – Allied Auto Works wants you to get there and back.

Categories:

Maintenance

Los Altos Tire Repair

Most Los Altos residents have experienced a flat tire. You know it's inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn't just a big safety issue for Los Altos drivers – it also has a financial impact. With high CA gas prices, we've all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to save on gas. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer. 

There's another danger with under-inflated tires for Los Altos residents. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don't just keep adding air every few days. You want to avoid tire damage.

Los Altos residents should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs - we have a whole team of them at Allied Auto Works. Los Altos folks can buy self-repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you're off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it's a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Tires and Wheels
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