Deal breakers when looking to buy a used car…

shutterstock_170749043It’s time to buy a car, not new but new to you!  If you are inexperienced at car buying this can be very exciting and a little scary.  None of us want to be taken advantage of especially in a large purchase such as a car.  Getting caught up in the emotion of buying a new car can distract you, causing you to overlook some important red flags.  ICC Collision Center cars about our customers and want you all safe.  When buying a used vehicle it’s important to look for major red flags.  Here are 3 that should be deal breakers when looking to buy a used car.
Check Engine Light– You may think that is a relatively simple thing to be a deal breaker.  If it were a simple fix the current owner would have already fixed it.  Chances are the fix is actually something major and one of the reasons the owner decided to get rid of it.   Always do a lightbulb check?  Turn the key on without starting the car, if the check engine light is not on at that point it means it could be burned out or has been removed.
Just remember if it were as simple as the owner will probably say it is, then why haven’t they fixed it?
Salvage Title– A vehicle has been in an accident and the insurance company determines the cost of repairs is more than the value of the car.  When the car is sold by the insurance company it will now have a salvaged title.  A person can buy the vehicle and repair it exactly to specifications but that is rare.  Usually the vehicle has been fixed well enough to pass inspections and to look pretty but not much more.  You see a shiny pretty vehicle and you think it is perfect for you. You buy the vehicle only to find a host of other issues and ultimately may have to cut your losses and scrap the vehicle.
Monitors that have not “flipped”– Most cars since 1996 have a set of tests that the vehicles computer runs under certain operating conditions to check for issues that cause high emissions.  The vehicle only runs these tests when a certain exact set of conditions are met.  Some vehicles have as many as 8 tests that are run.  Some of these conditions can be having the gas take between 1/3 and ¾ tank of gas as well as a specific way of driving to get the computer to perform these test.  If the one of the test fails the check engine light will be lit.  The monitors are reset to “not passed” whenever the check engine light is cleared.  Someone can clear the check engine light and try to sell the vehicle as problem free.  You drive it for a few weeks and all of a sudden the light comes on.  Even though this is harder to check when buying a vehicle if you have your mechanic checks it out.  If the monitors haven’t passed, don’t buy the vehicle.
At ICC Collision Centers, we care about our customers, our future customers and the general public.  We want you safe and happy with your vehicle.  Always make sure you buy a safe vehicle no matter how old or how pretty it is!

Positive Automotive Social Media Experience Impacts Purchase Decisions across All Generations


Toyota Ranks Highest in Social Media Auto Consumer Satisfaction

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 10 April 2014 — Social media provides consumers the opportunity to engage with companies to gather information and address customer issues. It also plays a critical role in driving consumer purchase and service decisions across all generational groups in the automotive marketplace, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Social Media Benchmark StudySM—Auto released today.

“Auto manufacturers that focus just on reaching Millennials through social media are missing a tremendous opportunity, as social media is a channel that reaches all generations of consumers,” said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. “Today for the first time, we have an in-depth understanding of what helps drive satisfaction in social media interactions across generations, and not just among consumers who are highly engaged in social media, but also those who are more casually engaged with a brand through this channel. It is important to provide a satisfying social media experience for all consumers because it helps drive current and future business.”

The study, now in its second year, measures the overall consumer experience in engaging with companies through their social media platforms for both marketing and servicing needs across 30 U.S. automotive brands. Marketing engagements include connecting with consumers to build brand awareness and affinity as well as communicating about products and promotions. Servicing engagements include answering specific consumer questions or resolving problems. The study establishes quantitative performance benchmarks and industry best practices that provide automakers and dealers with insights to help them maximize their social media efforts.


What Auto Warranties Do Not Cover


There are basically three levels of extended warranties or vehicle service contracts you can purchase. They are bumper to bumper, stated component and powertrain. Each level will cover a specific number of parts. However, there are certain parts that are not covered by any warranties and certain circumstances where a part is not covered.

Standard Maintenance and Consumables

Maintenance and consumable items are parts that need to be replaced on a regular basis over the normal course of owning a vehicle.

Brake Pads
Brake Rotors and Drums
Shock Absorbers
Exhaust System Components 
Light Bulbs
Wiper Blades
Spark Plugs and Wires
Distributer Cap and Rotor
Manual Clutch Pads
Fluids – oil, anti-freeze, refrigerants, grease and lubricants
Tires and Wheels (optional coverage on some policies but generally not a good value)

Note that some vehicle manufacturers will cover a small portion of the maintenance items. This is not part of the warranty. It is a maintenance program that is included with the purchase of a new vehicle.

Body Work and Interiors

These are components that technically don’t break but usually deteriorate, fade, scratch, rip or become loose over the normal course of time.

Body Panels
Sheet Metal
Weather Striping 
Air and Water Leaks
Wind Noise
Squeaks and Rattles
Upholstery, Fabric and Carpets
Convertible Tops (mechanics are covered but not the top itself)

Circumstances Where a Part is Not Covered

Even though a part might be covered under the policy there are certain circumstances when it wouldn’t be. These are usually found in the exclusions section of the warranty contract.

Breakdowns caused by:

Rust or corrosion
Collision, fire or theft
Acts of nature
Lack of proper maintenance
Contamination of fluids, fuels, coolants or lubricants
Non factory installed components or modifications
Abuse, racing or off-roading

Always read a warranty contract carefully to determine what parts are covered and what parts you are responsible for.

AutoRepair for Dummies: How to Change a Tire


Having a flat tire and not knowing how to change it can make you feel helpless. Changing a tire is easy enough to do, and everyone should have a general idea of what’s involved:

1.  Secure the vehicle so that it won’t roll and roll the spare tire to the scene of the action.

Use bricks, wooden wedges, or metal wheel chocks to block the wheels at the opposite end of the car from the end that is to be raised.

2.   Jack up the vehicle.

If you have a scissor jack, insert the rod or wrench over the knob, and then crank. If you have a hydraulic jack, place the handle into the appropriate location and pump up and down. Use nice, even strokes, taking the jack handle from its lowest point to its highest point on each stroke to cut down on the labor involved.

3.  Pry off the wheel cover.

You can use a screwdriver to pry the wheel cover off. Just insert the point of the tool where the edge of the cover meets the wheel, and apply a little leverage. The cap should pop off. You may have to do this in a couple of places, as if you were prying the lid off a can of paint.

4.   Loosen the lug nuts.

Find the end of the wrench that fits the lug nuts on your vehicle, and fit it onto the first nut. Apply all your weight to the bar on the left. This starts turning the nut counterclockwise, which loosens it. Don’t remove the lug nuts completely; just get them loose enough to remove by hand after jacking up the vehicle. A hollow pipe and a cross-shaft wrench can loosen the tightest lug nuts.If you have alloy wheels that are held on by lug nuts with delicate finishes, the delicate aluminum or chrome-plated lug nuts need careful handling. They should never be loosened or replaced with power tools that can scratch the delicate finish.

5.  Remove the flat tire.

Take the lug nuts completely off by hand. Grasp the flat tire with both hands and pull it toward you. As you pull the flat off, it should slide along the bolts until it clears the end of the bolts and you find yourself supporting its full weight. Roll the flat along the ground to the rear of the vehicle to get it out of the way.

6.  Lift the spare onto the lug bolts.

Because tires are heavy, you may have a little trouble lifting the spare into place — especially if you’re not accustomed to lifting heavy things.

7.  Replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand.

Give each lug nut a jolt with the wrench to get it firmly into place, but wait until the car is on the ground before you really try to tighten the lug nuts.

8.  Lower the vehicle and tighten the lugnuts.

After the vehicle is resting on the ground, use the lug wrench to tighten the lug nuts as much as you can.

9.  Replace the wheel cover or hubcap.

if your car has wheel covers with a delicate finish, the owner’s manual should provide instructions for replacing it. If your car has hubcaps, place the hubcap against the wheel and whack it into place with the heel of your hand. Cushion your hand with a soft rag first so that you won’t hurt it. And don’t hit the hubcap with a wrench or hammer — you’ll dent it.

Pretty Simple..Just follow the steps above and you are home free!

Extended Oil Change Intervals Taking Their Toll On Today’s Engines


Auto manufacturers, in general, are continuing to reduce vehicle maintenance requirements by extending oil change intervals.

The most common result is an engine ruined by excess accumulations of varnish and sludge due to using motor oils that are not approved by the engine manufacturer. In less common instances, the engine fails due to low engine oil levels and a subsequent lack of lubrication.

Whatever the case, extended oil change intervals are changing how we should recommend and perform scheduled vehicle maintenances.

While lead-free, high-detergent gasoline has dramatically reduced intake port and combustion chamber deposits, modern engine oils are also specially formulated to prevent carbon from forming in the combustion chamber, piston rings from sticking and oil additives from contaminating the catalytic converter.

In particular, modern engines generally use narrow, low-tension piston rings that are fitted very tightly into the piston to increase piston ring sealing and reduce oil consumption.

On the upside, low piston ring tension reduces rotating friction and cylinder wear. On the downside, low-tension rings with tight side-gap clearances tend to stick when the incorrect engine oil is used. Therefore, the ability of an engine oil to clean and lubricate the piston ring package is critical.

Oil suppliers have also eliminated zinc and phosphorous-based anti-scuff additives that reduce catalytic converter efficiency. While the elimination of these particular anti-scuff additives has increased camshaft wear on some high-performance pushrod-style engines, it hasn’t affected overhead camshaft engines due to the lower valve spring pressures used on overhead camshaft designs.

On the other hand, some engines equipped with direct fuel injection require a high degree of anti-scuff protection to prevent the camshaft-driven high-pressure fuel pump and camshaft lobe from wearing out. In most cases, oil refiners have gone to much higher quality base oils to prevent wear on the high-pressure fuel pump and cam lobe. Again, it’s vitally important to make sure that the replacement oil is either OE oil or is approved by the OE manufacturer.

As for older, performance pushrod, flat-tappet engines that are not equipped with catalytic converters, specially branded performance oils are available with anti-scuff additives to prevent camshaft and valve lifter wear. In addition, zinc-based “ZDDP” additives are also available to enhance the anti-scuff qualities of over-the-counter motor oils. Again, these oils and additives are not intended for vehicles equipped with catalytic converters.

Neglected oil change intervals can ruin the best engine oils. As engine oil accumulates miles, it becomes contaminated with carbon, water and various acids, all of which are a by-product of internal combustion and which will form a film of black, gooey sludge on the interior parts of the engine.

Cold-engine operation accelerates the formation of sludge because the oil temperatures aren’t sufficient to evaporate accumulated moisture. Oil sludging is also aggravated by short-trip, cold-weather driving and by thermostats that are stuck open. See Photo 1.

When the engine is operated at high speeds and temperatures, sludge often dislodges and clogs the oil filter. Since most oil filters incorporate bypass valves that allow the lubricating oil to flow around a clogged filter media, the dirty oil can pass directly into the engine and clog small-diameter oil galleries.

In any case, heavily sludged oil will eventually clog the engine’s oil pump pickup screen, oil filter and oil galleries. The initial symptoms of oil starvation are engines that become noisy during cold start-up and oil pressure gauges that rise very slowly.

Broken timing belts are also symptomatic of oil starvation on overhead camshafts. Because the damage usually includes the crankshaft and piston assemblies, don’t be too eager to quote a cylinder head replacement as the cure for a seized camshaft.

Article courtesy of ENGINE BUILDER magazine.

ICC Collision Centers

3131 Standard Ave

Santa Ana, California