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How to Find an Honest Repair Shop & Become a Savvier Consumer

By Jack Bulko, AutoAidWhen it comes to professions that rank low in trustworthiness, used car lots and automotive repair shops are likely near the top. Let’s face it, the automotive repair industry does not have a stellar reputation when it comes to customer service, or honesty, for that matter. No wonder so many people are skeptical about going to a shop and being treated fairly. Below are some tips on how to find an honest repair shop and become a savvier consumer. For years now, some mechanics and shop owners have counted on the average person not understanding how their vehicle operates, or even questioning what they say. How can you find a reliable, honest, credible and award-winning automotive repair shop that won’t try to swindle you? Do they exist? Yes, they do, and AutoAid is one of them. How to Tell If the Shop isn’t Being Honest with You You know the automotive shop is not bei ... read more

Having Car Problems at College? Call the Mensch with the Wrench.

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid One of the most common situations clients call me about is not knowing what to do when their college-age son or daughter has car problems at their out-of-state school. Why do my clients call me with these issues? Because I’m willing to get on the phone with a mechanic or car dealer and ask them the questions that your son or daughter may not know to ask. I can make the entire experience much more pleasant. That’s why so many of my clients tell their kids, “no matter what, if you’re having car problems at college, call the Mensch with the Wrench.” Take Alice, for example. I’ve been working on her family’s cars since she and her husband were married 30 years ago. Before her son, Keith, went to college in Arizona, she came to me and asked, “Jack, what is he going to do without you? Since he started driving two years ago, you and ... read more

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Smog Center and a Star Smog Center?

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Smog Center and a Star Smog Center?By Jack Bulko, AutoAid   You’re about to pay your car registration, and then you see it. That line indicating that you need a smog check. Ugh. Finding a place shouldn’t be difficult; there is one on almost every corner. Testing can be completed at any DMV-approved location within your county. So, what’s holding you back from getting it done? It’s deciding which type of service to use. Some are smog test stations, others smog test and repair stations and still others Star Certified Smog Check Test centers or Star Test & Repair Centers. What’s the difference between a regular smog center and a Star Smog Center? It’s about how they have been certified by the California state Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to perform smog checks, but ba ... read more

Smog Testing: What to Do If Your Vehicle Doesn’t Pass the Test?

If you you are a California resident and you own an older model car or truck, then you likely receive a notification for a smog check every other year. Your vehicle must pass the test before you can receive your new registration. What do you do? First, look for a smog station near you. Be sure that you get your car inspected at a Star Certified, California Licensed, smog check inspection and repair center. Some smog stations only perform testing, which means you still have to go to a mechanic to have any repairs made. Others, like Star stations, including AutoAid, can help you from testing through inspection and repair. While you wait for your automobile, you wonder what will you do if your vehicle does not pass the test? Will you be fined? Is there a way to avoid it altogether? Smog Test Before we answer your questions, let us go through what California's smog test encompasses. The test is made up of three parts: Emissions, Visual and Functional, each looking at ... read more

Positive Auto Repair Reviews are Few and Far Between

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid The other day I was speaking with another repair shop owner. He was complaining about Yelp! and similar online review sites, saying that positive auto repair reviews are few and far between. I told him that it depends a great deal on the shop’s capabilities, the mechanic’s knowledge and the level of customer care. Then I asked him: What is your customer service like? What, if any, perks do you offer your customers? Do you offer discounts/coupons? Do you make yourself available to answer existing or potential clients’ questions? When he asked why I was inquiring, I said: “All these things add value to the customer’s experience.” Our Customers Love AutoAid! Our crew at AutoAid gets excited every time there is a notice of a new review. We rarely receive a negative pos ... read more

Is It Better to Buy a New Car or a Certified Pre-Owned Car? Ask Your Repair Guy

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid Has your car seen better days? Or do you just want to upgrade sooner rather than later? Either way, it’s time for a change. Is it better to buy a new car or a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle? There are pros and cons to both. Our advice at AutoAid is always to ask your repair guy or gal first. We keep up with our industry news and can explain about electronic, computer-based or model changes, and what they will mean to you both on the road and in the repair shop. Below are some advantages and disadvantages to buying new or certified pre-owned. New Cars: What to Know There is nothing better than purchasing a new car or truck and trying out all the latest technology installed in it. And nothing beats that new car smell! Other benefits include: You get what you want. When you purchase a new car, yo ... read more

After It's Repaired: What Should Consumers Ask Before Leaving the Shop with Their Car

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid You’ve just had your car repaired. It had been a while since you took it in for maintenance. The brake pads needed changing, and so did a couple of belts. But it was the rotors that really cost you. You had a list of questions you wanted to ask the technician when you picked up your car, but quickly forgot after signing the paperwork. You realize you didn’t see the parts that had been replaced (and you had asked when you brought the car in) nor did anyone review the final bill and associated costs with you. What do you do? Call the automotive repair shop, and ask for the needed information. Both these items are required under California’s Automotive Repair Act of 1974. If for some reason you can’t do this, either because they are out of the area or you feel too embarrassed to go back, call AutoAid. Our family-owned and operated business believes that educati ... read more

Which Car Repairs May Not Be Worth the Trouble

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid One of the most frequently asked questions I get from AutoAid customers who have older vehicles is, “Is my care worth fixing?” And every time I’m asked, I have a different answer for my customer. It’s not because I don’t know what to say. Each and every car, or truck is different due to age, condition or the part that has to be replaced. Typically, most older cars need $1000 a year in repairs and maintenance. I always suggest that people consider the following before making a decision on fixing an older car. You can start by assessing the current condition of your car’s: Еngine Тransmission Cylinder head gaskets Timing belt These are all parts which are either expensive to replace in and of themselves or, as in the case of a timing belt, can damage other systems in the car. The mileage, the vehicles utility value to the owner, and the customer’s age all p ... read more

5 Car Fluids You Need to Check to Stay Safe on the Road

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid Just as we maintain our health by eating right, exercising and making sure we drink lots of water, there are certain things that we must do to keep our cars and trucks in good health, and keeping a close watch on the fluid levels is one of them. If you’re driving a newer automobile you need not worry too much about this as your dashboard panel will alert you to any fluids that may be low or when regularly scheduled maintenance is required. There are five primary fluids you need to check to stay safe on the road. They include engine oil, power steering, brake, transmission, and radiator fluids. I was just talking about this with a long-time customer the other day. Her grandson had recently gotten his driver’s license, and she had surprised him with a slightly used car. “One of the first things I said to my grandson was ‘Please go t ... read more

You Just Bought a Car and Have No Idea How It Works

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid I had to laugh last month when an older gentleman stopped in and asked if I could help him figure out the “bells and whistles” on his new Cadillac CT6. He had heard from a friend that Jack, David and the team at AutoAid can figure anything out when it comes to automobiles, whether it is maintenance or repair, and that we even have repair financing if needed. I told him it was true that we can review the functions on his car with him, and asked if he consulted the car manual before coming in. It’s something I ask our customers. His answer was “no, I know how to drive a car. I’ve had Cadillacs all my adult life,” he explained. “I figured what could be so different about this one? The salesperson gave me a brief tutorial but once I pulled ... read more

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