Advanced Auto Repairs

Advanced Auto Repairs Logo

1408 Ave F

Bay City, TX

7 blocks North of the Courthouse Corner of Lois and Hwy 60

(979)244-2934

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Frequently Asked Questions

This page is a work in progress and will be adjusted over time, so check back often. To add your question to our list simply contact us with your thoughts. Select questions and answers are added constantly.

The economy is in the dumpster due to the recession. I'll save some money by not doing as much maintenance, right?

The Quick Lube place told me terrible things will happen to my car if I refuse to flush my coolant system/transmission fluid/power steering/fuel system/etc. Is this true?

That other shop or parts house will diagnose my car for free!

My dealer/other repair shop tried to repair my car but the problem still exists. Help!

Since my car is still under factory warranty, do I have to go to the dealer for my maintenance to keep the warranty valid?

Shouldn't my dealer have sent me a notice before my warranty expired telling me about problems that can be fixed under warranty at no cost?

My check engine light is on. Is it a bad sensor and how much will it cost?

But the trouble code tells you what part to replace, right?

My a/c is blowing hot air. Will you top it off for me?

So if you check my car before a trip, you'll guarantee it'll never break?

My gas mileage has dropped. or My car runs poorly, do I need a tune up?

My car shakes when I hit the brakes. What should I do?

When I first apply the brakes they feel fine, but when I sit at a stoplight the pedal gradually sinks to the floor.  Why?

During the winter, I see my engine temperature actually reading higher than I do in the summer. Why?

My oil light is on or My car overheats or My car has a loud knock... Is it safe to drive to your shop for you to look at?

I have a light on in the instrument panel. Is my car safe to drive to your shop for you to look at it?

Do I need to make an appointment?

Do you have a Diagnostic Machine? You know, that computer that tells you what's wrong with my car?

Do you offer a warranty on the work you perform?

Can I have my old parts back?

My steering wheel shakes while driving. Do I need an alignment?

Can I supply my own parts?

I can buy parts on the Internet/Down Town/Used cheap!

Can you give me an estimate over the phone or online?

What is a "Guess" repair?

 

 

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The economy is in the dumpster due to the recession. I'll save some money by not doing as much maintenance, right?

This seems like a good idea for saving money, but according to our records, car repair visits are getting more expensive as a result. Our advice is this: If you really want to save money, you will be better off to invest a little at a time maintaining your vehicle rather than stopping all together. Using the fuel filter example, you can save $50 by not replacing it now, but when the fuel pump wears out due to the strain of a plugged filter, the $50 you just saved can now cost $800 for a new fuel pump plus wrecker fees plus the stress of being stranded on the side of the road in less than desirable Texas weather.

How about that dead battery at 3 a.m. during an emergency? The first sign of most battery failures is a "click" or dead silence when you turn the key. We can minimize your surprises with a few tests. Most freeway breakdowns can be prevented by following the factory required maintenance plan. It really is cheaper to maintain a car than to "fix it as it breaks".

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The Quick Lube place told me terrible things will happen to my car if I refuse to flush my coolant system/transmission fluid/power steering/fuel system/etc. Is this true?

There are rare cases where these services might be beneficial, but in general, they are oversold. These "flushes" are better known as Wallet Flushes to us in the trade as they are sold with more interest in getting your money than actually prolonging the life of your car. In more cases than not, a simple fluid exchange will accomplish all that is needed for a lifetime of worry free driving with a much lower price to boot. To top it off, many manufactures have advised against nearly all fluid flushes as many use chemicals known to cause damage to the very components you are trying to protect. Extreme caution is advised here. Follow your owner's manual when in doubt. Even though factory maintenance is only intended to make your car live beyond its warranty, it's still a good starting place for the maintenance required for YOUR car. You can see our generic guidelines here. Or, stop by and we will print out the maintenance due on YOUR car or light truck.

On a side note, I'm still waiting for someone to answer my question of how a transmission flush is supposed to get the debris that builds up over time past the filter. This defies all laws of physics. The ONLY way to ensure a filter is clean is to physically see it and/or replace it. This just can't be done with a machine. Here's an example of a transmission with a lifetime of flushes and what I saw when I removed the pan for a proper service.

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That other shop or parts house will diagnose my car for free!

Everyone has to know what their time is worth! Be careful here as you'll likely get what you've paid for - nothing more than an expensive headache with a car that's still broken. Plugging in a code reader and selling you parts of questionable need based on the code they pull is not to be confused with proper diagnostics. What if you went to a Doctor, pointed at your chest saying, "It hurts here."? If the Doctor never got out of his chair but started scheduling you for a heart transplant would you be a little concerned? That's exactly the same as replacing a part based on a trouble code pulled with a cheap code reader like those used at parts houses and some lower end repair shops. Do you need a heart transplant? Not likely, but there's just no way to be sure without further testing. That's what we do. We perform tests in order to determine what really needs to be done. And that testing involves years of knowledge backed up with thousands of dollars in equipment, so yes, there is a charge for doing this. The charge for testing is almost always less than a new heart that most likely wasn't needed!

We Test, not Guess!

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My dealer/other repair shop tried to repair my car but the problem still exists. Help!

We run into this more often than you think! While we can't speak for other shops or know why the failure rate is so high, the list of other's failures being properly repaired at Advanced Auto Repairs is growing at an alarming rate! The most common problems coming from the other locations seem to be Check Engine Lights and wiring issues which happen to be our specialty. Specializing in these types of automotive problems since 1982 give us the advantage of experience not found at many other repair facilities including dealers. Feel free to challenge us and you can join the list of others converted into lifetime customers! Fixed Fast! Fixed Right!! Words we take to heart and live by!

 

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Since my car is still under factory warranty, do I have to go to the dealer for my maintenance to keep the warranty valid?

We are fully certified to perform any and all maintenance and/or repairs on your car without affecting your warranty. Should any dealer argue that you will void your warranty by going elsewhere, do your research here and you might qualify for FREE repairs from that dealer! Here's another thing you likely didn't know: Per most of the manufactures, dealers are required to NOT inspect your vehicle for warranty related repairs as a means of keeping costs down. Read that again... Dealer techs in nearly all franchises are warned to NOT inspect for needed repairs covered by warranty - even if you ask. At Advanced Auto Repairs, we don't have these restrictions which means if we see any issues that need attention, we will tell you about them and offer options on how to take care of them.

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Shouldn't my dealer have sent me a notice before my warranty expired telling me about problems that can be fixed under warranty at no cost?

We've never heard of this, either, because it just doesn't happen! However, we DO have access to the same information they do pertaining to potential problems with your car. Come see us before your warranty expires and we'll be more than happy to review these technical service bulletins and recalls related to your car and verify any that actually address problems directly related to your car. (not every bulletin/recall applies to every car) Items not covered under warranty we can take care of for you. And those items still under warranty you can go see your dealer armed with the knowledge and documents needed possibly saving you serious problems later on and definitely saving you some serious money! Oh, and we offer this one for free.

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My check engine light is on. Is it a bad sensor and how much will it cost?

That's a question with upwards of 1,150 correct answers. How, you ask? Research has shown there are upwards of 1,150 scenarios that can cause a check engine light to illuminate. "There are 1,150 sensors??" Not at all, but for each sensor there are a variety of ways it or its relative circuits can fail: open, shorted, abnormal output - plus there is potential for wiring damage between the computer and sensor as well as a computer being defective itself. Occasionally the factory makes adjustments in programming to correct issues that aren't related to sensor failures at all: sometimes the programming itself "sees" problems that don't exist. So, the short answer? Once we have the opportunity to inspect your car and perform all the testing necessary to pinpoint the cause of a check engine light, we can then honestly tell you how much it will cost. Anyone willing to offer an estimate for repairs before proper testing is guessing at best and doesn't have your best interest at heart.

We Test, not Guess!

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But the trouble code tells you what part to replace, right?

Retrieving a trouble code is not the end of diagnostics as so many untrained folks would like you to believe - it's only the beginning. Let's use Trouble Code P0171 - Fuel Trim System Lean. A popular parts house sells Oxygen Sensors by the truckload for this code since the sensor is reporting a lean condition. Think about that... "The sensor is reporting a problem". In other words, it's doing its job. A trouble code to an Auto Technician is the same as a house address to a cop. The "failure" is the bad guy the cop is trying to locate so the cop uses the address (Trouble Code) to find the right house. In the case above, if he were to break the door down and arrest the suspected bad guy (replace the Oxygen Sensor), he would have just apprehended the Dad of the house who called in warning of the break-in as Dad was the first person seen by the cop without a proper investigation (testing to find the source of the problem). The Bad Guy (vacuum leak in many cases) is still free and money was wasted. Trouble codes only give the address. Proper training and equipment are required to accurately "arrest" the right "bad guy". Sometimes that bad cop gets lucky, but at Advanced Auto Repairs, we don't rely on luck - we rely on many years of training, experience, and the right equipment.

We Test, not Guess!

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My A/C is blowing hot air. Will you top it off for me?

We'll be happy to inspect your A/C and we are qualified to make any repairs to bring it back to life. Please be advised low freon is only one of many reasons an air conditioning system might not cool properly. We find low freon to be the only source of poor cooling in less than 50% of all systems tested. Lack of airflow through the car's radiator due to multiple reasons, overcharging (too much freon), basic to major system faults in under hood components to electrical controls inside the car. Also, let's say the freon level really is low: Like a low tire, freon can only escape if a leak exists so instead of a simple "top off", proper testing is required to determine where the freon escaped. A system that is low and a few years old is an exception here as very slight freon loss is considered normal by older standards. In the last example a top-off is perfectly acceptable. Only proper testing can tell for sure.

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So if you check my car before a trip, you'll guarantee it'll never break?

Two Space Shuttles have crashed now, and they have Rocket Scientists working on them! While we can spot many issues that will lead to failure if ignored, not even the best trained Auto Techs can predict the future of your car. There are exceptions based on common problems, but that's not the same as simply inspecting a part and being able to tell it's future with no signs of current damage. Most every part on every car is wearing out each time you use it. Some will go sooner than others, most will never wear out before the car dies. While there really are some things we can't predict the future on, our experience in the field allows us to see the trends in repeat repairs as well as spot many components on the edge of failure that the untrained eye will miss. Periodic inspections of failure prone items will cut way down on the unexpected. The report we offer after an inspection is a snapshot of what condition your car is in at this point in time.

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My gas mileage has dropped. or My car runs poorly, do I need a tune up?

Maybe, maybe not. There are many possible problems that can cause these concerns. A few years ago, tune ups would fix many concerns. These days, the term "tune up" has very little meaning in itself. Sure, maintenance is a requirement to keep performance up to par, but there is no one size fits all tune up as in the past. So to answer, we can repair abnormal poor gas mileage concerns as well as poor running conditions, but these issues may or may not be tune up related. Thank the computer age for making the explanation itself more complicated! To sum up, if you have any mileage, performance or even general "why does it do that?" concerns, come see us. We can help.

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My car shakes when I hit the brakes. What should I do?

This is generally caused by warped or un-parallel brake components. Tires and worn suspension parts can be a culprit in some instances. Ignoring this can be a safety issue plus the shake you feel in the steering wheel is much lower than the shake felt by the steering components in your car. This will lead to worn out steering components if ignored and as stated, it is a safety issue by causing an increase in braking distance and possible loss of steering if parts get worn enough to come apart. Get this checked out today!

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When I first apply the brakes they feel fine, but when I sit at a stoplight the pedal gradually sinks to the floor.  Why?


There is a leak bleeding off pressure either internal or outside the system.  The car needs immediate professional attention because there is no way to predict what the brake pedal will do next time. It's time to be safe and call a wrecker.

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During the winter, I see my engine temperature actually reading higher than I do in the summer. Why?

This is perfectly normal in stop and go driving. The reason might get a bit technical, though. During the summer, your air conditioning system is on constantly. This causes higher cooling system demands so the manufactures handle this by running the electric cooling fans based on a/c demands. This higher airflow keeps the temperature in the middle of the gauge (195-210 degrees) on many cars. During the winter, a different technique is used. The cooling fans tend to run only as the engine demands it instead of nearly full time since the a/c is now off mostly. Now, many manufactures will only turn the fan on at temps as high as 235 degrees and off at around 210 degrees resulting in the needle on the gauge reading a bit higher than it does in the summer. These numbers vary between car makes, but work for the purpose of discussion here. When cruising at highway speeds, the extra airflow you feel when you stick your hand out of the window keeps the engine temperature lower so you're not likely to see this unless you do stop and go driving or are sitting at the drive through window for a few minutes. Now, if at any time the temperature approaches the redline, call us! This is serious and the car shouldn't be driven until a cure is found.

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My oil light is on. My car overheats. My car has a loud knock. My brakes don't work properly. My clutch/transmission slips. Is my car safe to drive to your shop for you to look at?

Sorry, the answer is NO. For less than the cost of a tank of gas we can have your car towed in where it can be properly inspected. A serious problem driven just a short distance to the shop might lead to several thousand in repairs if not caught soon enough. We are all about saving you money when possible.

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I have a light on in the instrument panel. Is my car safe to drive to your shop for you to look at it?

Your Owner's Manual is your best choice to answer this as some cars are built to different standards. If you don't have the manual as many folks find they can't carry as many CDs with that blasted manual in the way, here's the general explanation related to warning lights: First, 2 questions: What color is the light? And is it blinking? Now, if the light is yellow, it's generally a warning that something needs inspecting soon, but not necessarily an emergency. Come see us as soon as convenient and we'll take care of it. If it is a Check Engine light (yellow) and blinking, that is an indication of a problem that will lead to further damage if ignored. You may not need to park it immediately as in the cases of red lights, but driving for non emergencies might cost more money if the problem isn't addressed. Drive on in if you're within a few miles of the shop. If not, call us and we can further advise you.  If the light is red, it's related to a component that may be safety related or a warning that serious damage is imminent if the engine continues to run. This includes items such as oil pressure mentioned above and brakes along with other serious items. Don't chance it!  Call us and we can tow it in.

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Do I need to make an appointment?

Generally, yes. Although we make every effort to accommodate all of our customers, we work on appointments first, then a first come first served basis. Therefore an appointment is always recommended. To make life easier, we accept appointments made
online, by phone and in person. You're welcome to walk in at any time without an appointment - you just may have a bit of a wait depending on our workload.

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Do you have a Diagnostic Machine? You know, that computer that tells you what's wrong with my car?

We have several as a matter of fact, but it isn't the one you are picturing in your head. When people think of diagnostics, they think of a computer you can plug a vehicle into that will tell you what is wrong. If there were such a machine, every household in America would own 2! The only true Diagnostic Machine is a well educated and experienced technician, armed with a variety of diagnostic equipment including a multimeter, oscilloscope, hand held vehicle scanner along with a multitude of equipment and access to an updated information library as well as ongoing training in the latest technology. So, yes, THOSE "machines" we have! Today's vehicles and systems demand nothing less. We are equipped to handle 99% of the problems you might ever encounter.

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Do you offer a warranty on the work you perform?

Yes. Our warranty is for 12 months or 12,000 miles whichever comes first. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority, therefore we use high quality parts which results in nearly no warranty issues to deal with. Having only 3 warranty claims for the year of 2008 (one a heavily used fleet vehicle) and 3 warranty claims for 2009 out of several hundred repairs is no accident.

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Can I have my old parts back?

Sure! They are your parts. We only ask that you let us know ahead of time. To cut back on clutter, once the bill is paid, unclaimed parts are disposed of.

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My steering wheel shakes while driving. Do I need an alignment?

Rarely will an alignment issue cause a shake or vibration. On the other hand, alignment problems WILL cause excessive tire wear, a pull to the right or left if the steering wheel is released and increased gas usage. The most common cause of vibration at highway speeds would be tire balance. Improperly installed tires, tires damaged from curbs and potholes and badly worn tires due to a alignment issues are the most likely fault here, so in a sense, alignment can play a small part in vibrations over time.

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Can I supply my own parts?

Generally, no. This is due to the same reasons a burger joint won't allow you to bring your own hamburger meat. One, they lose control of quality. Two, there's a high liability if the meat you supply is bad and you sue them for serving it to you. And finally, when you tell everyone about the lousy tasting burger that made you sick, will you tell the same people that YOU supplied the meat? This rarely gets mentioned in these situations. The exception to this rule would be a catalog/specialty part for a custom job or a swap meet part for a classic car restoration. If your situation is one of these two please stop by before you purchase anything to discuss the job.

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But I can buy parts on the Internet/Down Town/Used cheap!

So can we! But we don't due to overseas parts being of such a low quality. We offer a warranty plus we make sure the parts we supply for your car are correct, and that we get ALL the parts needed for a repair. We know the difference between that cheap import part and the good stuff that looks just alike. Knowing which aftermarket parts are good to use and which will kill your car is a bit like knowing which mushrooms are safe to eat: very risky unless you have a lot of expertise and experience. Now, when it comes to mushrooms, we have no clue and would likely be dead by our choices. When it comes to parts on the other hand, we have taken the time and risks to know which ones are good and which ones are junk. If you pick a bad part and the part does not perform to your satisfaction, you will have little recourse. The parts supplier may warranty the part but that likely will mean you get the exact same brand/model of the part that failed in the first place. Restaurants don't let customers bring groceries in for them to cook (talk about cheaper!), Dentists don't let their patients bring in gold fillings to have installed, and Advanced Auto Repairs will install parts purchased elsewhere only in rare instances. (See the 2 exceptions above). We have developed procedures that serve our customers very well - procedures which include procuring the correct as well as high quality parts to repair vehicles correctly.

You just never know when that cheap part might lead to a catastrophe. "It's only a rubber valve stem. How serious could that simple little rubber part be??"

"But the part I bought is brand new! It HAS to be good!" Edsels were "new". Chinese made toys which were lead contaminated were "new". Enough said... New only means "new". It is no guarantee of quality. Would you look for the cheapest parachute if jumping out of an airplane? How about the cheapest Doctor for a kidney transplant? An improperly done (cheap) brake job affects you AND those around you when your car won't stop at an intersection. Think about that...

So, when you find a shop advertising a lower price, ask yourself, "What are they leaving out to make it cheaper?" Quality? Safety??

Having only 3 warranty claims for the year of 2008 and the same for 2009 out of several hundred repairs is no accident and reinforces why we choose our own parts - quality control.

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Can you give me an estimate over the phone or online?

For many standardized jobs such as oil change services, alignments and such, sure. Most work, though, requires our hands-on inspection in order for us to quote you an accurate price. You might call 10 repair shops and get 10 answers, but until one of them has seen the car, all 10 are likely to be wrong prices! The low quote will be the shop luring you in and will charge more than quoted once you're "hooked". The highest price will be the experienced shop covering problems known to them that may or may not apply to your car. Ask this of anyone willing to offer you a price: "Will you absolutely guarantee that price?" Be prepared for a hesitation from the other end of the phone or a practiced speech on "hidden damage". Save yourself the time and headache - be fair to us and yourself and let the shop check your car for the proper repair. We offer a few of the reasons below. We hope you will be understanding and try to imagine being in our shoes.

Reason#1: All too often we have put together prices only to find out that the call in diagnosis was not the actual problem. It rarely is. Many people think green coolant on the ground equals a leaking water pump. A loose hose clamp can do the same thing. Squealing brakes means new brake pads and rotor machining, right? Rocks stuck in the dust shield sound the same and we've fixed many for under $20. There's no reason for us to quote a brake job when you may not need one.

Reason#2: The application (or car information) supplied by the caller was not accurate causing the estimate to be inaccurate as well. The distributor cap and labor on a Chevy Caprice with a 350 can cost hundreds more than on a Chevy Pickup with a 350.

Reason#3: There may be more found to be wrong with the car than we were told on the phone. (Quite common!)

Reason#4: The labor time on some jobs depends on the condition of the vehicle. Lift kits, rusted components, poorly attempted repairs, modifications, all effect the time it takes to do a job. Major leaks might require a cleanup raising the price while some modifications might allow easier access lowering the price.

Reason#5: If we are able to see the condition of the car, we are able to warn you of possible complications that the repair may present. It is impossible to see rust damage, wear, or corrosion over the phone.

Reason#6: Some parts require information that can only be obtained by having the car present. Cars have many options from the manufacturer plus designs often change once or twice within the same year. We would rather have the car here so we can quickly obtain the needed information rather than play phone tag and try to explain where and how to get what we need to know.

We have received feedback from a few people who thought we were priced too high on some big  jobs. One was an engine replacement. Our estimate to the last nut and bolt? $3000. They phoned a well known engine and transmission "specialist" chain of stores and were quoted $1800 so they had the vehicle towed to them since money was tight. Who wouldn't? But, the final bill was over $3200  PLUS the wrecker bill and now the vehicle owner is unhappy as well because of substandard work from this place of business. They are now paying other shops to fix mistakes made while "saving money" so that $3200+ expense is still growing. Be leery of ANY repair facility that will offer a price over the phone without even seeing your car. This practice is getting to be more common due to the struggling economy and slow business in many areas. Some places find no shame in luring you in with a fake low price as they are counting on you staying once more expensive "hidden" damage is found. We find it shameful when businesses give low-ball estimates over the phone as a lure. You WILL NOT experience this at Advanced Auto Repairs! More thoughts on price shopping?

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"What is a "Guess" repair?"

I'm glad you asked! There is more than one way to fix a problem with a car (or most anything). There's the right way which involves testing components to find the failure, and then there is the way many uninformed folks will do things in an attempt to save money (by not paying for access to quality information) or save time (by not taking the needed time to verify why something doesn't perform as it should).

So, let's say your car won't start and it has been found to not have any fuel pressure. It needs a fuel pump, right? Most people automatically think so and some people will want a new fuel pump, no questions asked. This is a "guess" repair as nothing has been tested to confirm anything except a loss of fuel pressure. Is the fuel pump getting power? Does the darned gas tank have any gas in it?  All too often the fuel pump is replaced without testing anything else. The car still doesn't start so now it's time to actually find out why. Whoops! A $15 relay was faulty and not supplying any power to the fuel pump! Could the original pump have damaged the relay and still have been needed? Maybe... But it's still a "guess" as we'll never know since it was replaced with no testing. With some modern fuel pumps costing upwards of $600-$800 with parts and labor and a simple relay plus time to test running less than $100, how many people will admit to you they charged you $800 for repairs you may not have needed?

WE TEST! WE DON'T GUESS!

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