The prices of new and used cars are high. CNBC reports on data from Kelley Blue Book showing that a new car had an average price of more than $42,000 in June 2021, and this continues to rise. This is because the supply of cars cannot meet demand. Manufacturers are stalled by worldwide shortages in microchips used in auto manufacturing.
Buyers turned to the used car market, thereby causing those prices to soar, as well. CNN reports that used car prices increased by 30 percent from March 2021 to June 2021. While the increase from June to July was only 0.2 percent, prices remain high.
For vehicle owners, the best option now is to extend the life of their current car for as long as possible with regular maintenance and repair by certified professionals. The risk is too high to leave your car in the hands of those who do not have the right credentials for the job.
In the U.S., the organization that has provided automotive repair and maintenance certification since 1972 is the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or ASE. It offers 52 certifications from entry-level to master technician. Certain certifications require a certain number of years of related work experience or equivalent formal education. The tests are prepared in workshops by automotive technology educators, executives from automobile manufacturers and aftermarket manufacturers, and working technicians. These exams are so stringent that on the first try, only less than 70 percent of test-takers usually pass.
Passing one test earns a certification. Some tests are clustered under certain master certifications. For instance, the technician has to pass eight separate tests to get a master’s certification in automobiles and light trucks. Engine repair, automatic transmissions and transaxles, manual drive train and axles, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical and electronic systems, heating and air conditioning, and engine performance.
To get a master certification in collision repair and refinishing, the technician has to pass four tests. These are painting and refinishing, non-structural analysis and damage repair, structural analysis and damage repair, and mechanical and electrical components.
Some certifications stand alone, such as light vehicle diesel engine repair certification and light-duty hybrid and electric vehicle specialist certification. Each certification is valid for five years only, after which the technician needs to take an updated test to renew the certification. This ensures that the technician remains up-to-date in developments in the field.
Regular Maintenance is Essential
Even when there is nothing wrong with your car, you need to be diligent in regular maintenance. This prevents the development of problems that may lead to costly repairs. Even worse, these problems could lead to tragic road accidents. Your vehicle manual will indicate the manufacturer’s recommendation on the intervals for maintenance of specific parts. Follow these instructions to keep your car at the optimum level.
Wash your car regularly to protect its paint. Power-wash the underside to prevent early corrosion. If you do not have this equipment, bring it to a car wash that offers this service.
Every month, check all your tires, including your spare tire. Calibrate them to the correct pressure. If they feel wobbly or you feel a vibration, you must have them checked for possible tire balancing and alignment. Tires must also be rotated after 5,000 to 10,000 miles. This evens out the wear on the treads and extends their life.
Check the engine oil and oil filter and have these changed according to the schedule in your manual. When changing the oil, also change the air filter. Ask your mechanic to check the coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid.
Every day, before you start your car, check under it for any leaks. Take note of the color of the leak and immediately take your car to the shop. Ask your mechanic to regularly check the belts and hoses for cracks and other signs of wear that indicate the need for replacement.
When driving, be aware of signs of possible brake problems. Squealing means the brake pads are worn and therefore rub on the rotor. A grinding sound means there is rust on the brake rotors. A vibration or rattling sound means the brakes are affected by overheating. Immediately bring the car to your mechanic.
Schedule regular tune-ups so that your car gets an overall check on all its parts. This will also address things like the removal of battery corrosion. The shop will fix any part that needs repair and replace those that can no longer be fixed.
You must have a trusted repair shop to ensure that you are not conned into replacing parts that do not need replacement. To be fully trustworthy, your repair shop must also employ accredited auto technicians.