Address Intermittent Problems
One day your car is driving fine, the next it stalls and your "Check Engine" light comes on. Then, when you finally take it to the repair shop, everything seems fine. The initial problem could be something as minor as a low battery or a broken "Check Engine" lightbulb. But what if it's a costly catalytic converter or transmission failure? Better to be safe than sorry.
The handheld device and software program at www.CarMD.com could help. Just plug it in to the OBD2 port (found under your dashboard) and in seconds you will get a green-yellow-red LED reading indicating potential problems. Then, use the included PC software to tap into a database with thousands of fixes from ASE technicians across the country and to generate a report with a probable cause plus estimated parts and labor costs.
Consider Extended Warranties
In most cases, the newer your vehicle, the lower your extended warranty cost. If you didn't purchase an extended warranty when you bought the car, don't worry-you can still get one. Just remember: Not all warranties are created equal. Be sure to ask who administers the policy and if there are limitations. Also, check the fine print. Will the warranty cover the retail labor rate at your favorite dealership or local repair shop?
Fix Big-Ticket Items
Has your car been stalling? Has the transmission been slipping? These symptoms can indicate serious and potentially costly problems, even complete engine failure, which could cost $2,000 or more to fix. It's best to get such repairs done before your car is out of warranty.
TSBs and Safety Recalls
Vehicle manufacturers regularly issue recalls and technical service bulletins (TSBs) to alert owners and technicians of needed repairs. A recall can be issued for everything from a minor glitch, such as a malfunctioning door lock, to a true safety hazard. If you are the registered owner of a vehicle, you will usually receive a notice when a manufacturer issues a recall on your vehicle. Repairs necessitated by such safety recalls are free of charge to the vehicle owner.
TSBs, however, help guide technicians on how to repair often stubborn issues. TSB work is usually not free unless the vehicle is under warranty. It's wise to find out the TSBs related to your particular year, make and model vehicle while it's still under warranty.
Get A Complete Checkup
From the moment you drive off the lot, you should begin planning a preventative maintenance program that includes regular oil changes, visual inspections and following your manual. If you fail to maintain your vehicle, its manufacturer may not honor your warranty. The CarMD device can be used as part of a healthy vehicle check-up plan. Plug it in before and after your oil changes or before a long road trip to help detect hidden engine problems early so they can be repaired while still under warranty.
An added bonus: If you do decide to let your warranty lapse and choose to buy a used car, the device can tell you if the vehicle you're considering is in top shape.
For more information, visit www.CarMD.com.