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Freedom is never Free

Posted on 05/16/2017

Memorial Day is fast approaching. Many of us are looking forward to the official beginning of summer and the first three-day weekend off in a while. But how many of us really stop to think about why or how we are able to enjoy our time off and do pretty much whatever we like and go wherever we please within this great country? 

For those who are serving or who have served in the military in the past, there is a distinct understanding and appreciation for all who’ve served before them, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice; their lives for our freedom. For those of us who have never served, but are the children of those who have, we have a responsibility to remind our children and grandchildren as well as others what this day is truly about. Whether you visit the grave site of a departed veteran, or a war memorial, or museum this Memorial Day, remember; This would not be possible if we as a country had laid idly by and allowed those who sought to oppress our freedoms to do so. Never is war easy. Never is war neat and organized. Never is war the answer to end all future wars.

Sometimes there is no other way to prevent someone from taking that which isn’t theirs to take. It is at times like these that we must fight, first in passionate words in the hope our adversary will find mutual grounds on which to agree. But if words fail to find their mark or we are hit with an unexpected attack such as Pearl Harbor, or more recently The World Trade Center, what message would it send the Free world had we done nothing. We have been titled the Greatest Nation in the Free World by those whose countries our brave Service Men and Women fought to free from Dictators and Communist rule. We don’t shy away from the fight. We don’t want it and we don’t promote it. If the alternative means giving up the freedoms that our fathers and fore fathers fought to have, hold and endure; our brave service members will always do what they are called to do. Too many US military members serving in nearly every country in the world, have given their lives that we may have the freedoms we do today.

The very least we can do for them this Memorial Day is remember with great honor those who have gone before us whether they passed in battle or not, so we may continue to enjoy the freedom to pursue Life in all the ways we can, Liberty to choose our direction, and the pursuit of Happiness in whatever ways we might.  

Mother's Day 2017

Posted on 05/12/2017

This Sunday is Mother’s Day once again. Most of us who were fortunate enough to grow up in a family environment never realized what it meant to grow up without a mother and thus, unknowingly, tended to take our mothers love and nurturing for granted. Thankfully most of us were raised to become self-sufficient productive members of society.  To lead a good life accepting the good and the not-so-good along the way. This didn’t happen by accident. The values we know today were the values instilled in us by our parents and generally most notably by our mother- if you happen to be from the baby-boomer generation. In me and my wife’s case, our fathers were military and, in many instances, deployed a large part of our childhood.  Therefore, our mothers played the greater part of our child rearing into adulthood. Not enough can be said about the values instilled in us as a result of our mother’s influence and we are thankful for that each and every day.

Our daughters are both successful each in their own way, and are mothers themselves. The values that were instilled in them as they were raised has helped them become the successful women they are today. Values that were surely passed down from our mothers with some additions along the way. Both daughters tend to remain close to one another and their mother even when they live miles apart. This is the bond that ties, and their mother is the central figure in their lives. 

This Mother’s Day, like every Mother’s Day, should be special. Put away the remote, put away the “me” time and make the Day special for mom. Isn’t that really what this Day is for? Show appreciation for things both big and small that helped shape who you are today and be thankful for your mom or mother figure who was there along the way. I know I am.

De-coding vs. Diagnostics

Posted on 01/17/2017

There is no end of Auto parts stores willing to DE-CODE your Check Engine Light fro FREE with a slant toward selling more parts.  Many will say "de-code" is "diagnosis". It is not! All vehicles sold in the United States after 1994 were required to have a vehicle information port (OBDII port).  This port enables anyone with a device to read trouble codes stored in the computer. This might include the primary computer or ECU(electronic control unit), the BCM(body control module), the TCM(transmission control module), and others.  Each of these units can store a multitude of codes. Some codes are related and some are indicating other switches and sensors throughout the electronic control systems. Most are connected to a dash warning light, CEL(check engine light), SES(service engine soon), and in some cases a symbol that resembles an icon or action. Other warning lights in the dash may include SRS(safety restraint system), TCS(traction control system), ABS(anti-lock brake system) and others.

Perhaps this will provide a better understanding of why shops charge separately for diagnosis vs de-coding. Understandably some customers are at odds when it comes to diagnosis charges. Some feel that diagnosis is unwarranted; that we should just find the problem(for free) and charge only for the repair. That would most certainly be the case if the problem were staring us in the face like a flat tire;but rarely is that the case.Most customers understand with computers running everything from can openers to drones that a thorough diagnosis will lead to a complete and proper repair. If we take a video and show the technician working on a problem, pin testing connectors, viewing information on the scan tool, more pin testing, checking under the hood or the dash, then observing a DVOM(digital volt/ohm meter) and running more tests based on the codes that were retrieved when the de-code was performed, I think most watching might have a better appreciation for the amount of involvement and time needed to reach the proper diagnosis. Many problems are identified within the first hour of time spent on the vehicle. For example: rodents chewing thru wires is becoming more frequent due to peanut oil being used in the production of auto wiring. Often electrical/electronic system issues are more difficult to locate and thus require more time. The skill level of the technician cannot be understated in finding issues in the least amount of time. In some instances, when the problem is found, it requires replacement of a component such as a switch, sensor, or module. These can often be hidden in the interior of the vehicle,or inside the transmission, or engine. Often replacement of a part means the system will need to be reprogrammed. This is something the customer may be unaware of when it comes to charges, especially when sorting out information from misinformed sources. I find it interesting when a customer says: "I have a friend who knows all about cars and they said....." Understandably customers want to be helpful. We are always interested in information that may lead us to a solution quickly, however once you have committed your car to a shop that you trust, please give them the benefit of the doubt when they advise you on what it will take to fix your car.

Most highly skilled shops are dedicated to their trade and deeply concerned about the customer and their vehicle. We are one of those shops.

Keep the wheels turning. tp

How to Prepare your vehicle for Back-To-School

Posted on 08/09/2016

If you have children getting ready to return to classes, one of the most important things to be sure of is that your vehicle is prepared for the extra travel time. Whether you are a working single parent, or a working married couple, you will be relying on your vehicle to get you where you “need” to go. In Virginia we are required to have an annual Virginia State Inspection. This not only insures the vehicle is safe for the owner to drive it protects other motorists as well.  While everything associated with a Virginia State Inspection has to be checked off in order to receive a valid sticker, the primary items involve the following:

1) Tires should be in good condition with correct manufacturers specified tire pressure (usually found on driver’s door jamb) adequate tread, no cords showing, and no worn edges so that in the event of heavy rain they are able to pass water between the treads to avoid hydroplaning and not slide when turning. All tires have date codes on them and if the tires are more than 5-7 years old (10 max.) replacement is recommended regardless of how much tread is remaining. (This is not a State Inspection requirement, however it is recommended by most tire manufacturers).

2) Brake linings, brake hoses, steel lines and parking brakes should be checked during routine vehicle service.  Sticking parking brakes, low brake linings, leaking calipers, wheel cylinders, leaking axle seals or heavily rusted brake lines are cause for concern and should be addressed immediately. If the brakes smell hot or the vehicle is pulling when braking, have it checked. 

3) Wiper blades are a simple item, but we rarely bother to notice them until we need them most. Make sure the blades are not dry-rot, or torn, and the windshield is cleaned well. A good application of Rainex will help immensely. Also be sure your windshield washer fluid is full and system operational.

4) Be sure all lights are working, headlights (high and low beam), turn signals, brake lights, parking lights, reverse lights and license plate lights. If you have lights that aren’t operating, get them fixed. Most headlights today have plastic lenses over the bulbs that haze over as they age. It is highly recommended to have the lenses refinished by polishing so distance vision is restored.

5) Steering and suspension should be checked for worn or missing parts. Torn steering rack or CV boots, excessive play and any “knocking” or “clunking” noises should be investigated carefully. Shocks and struts should be inspected for operation, leaks, and worn bushings. Loose or worn wheel bearings should be repacked or replaced as needed. U-joints and drive shafts should be checked and lubricated where applicable.

The previous items are some of the most important and each of those can be expanded on, however there are many others that should be noted. The following additional items should be in proper working order: Seat belts, seat operation, windows, door handles, and lock operation, parking brake, mirrors, horn, and defrost/heat. Warning lights on the dash should not be ignored and should be investigated and whatever systems are affected repaired.

I hope your summer has been great and the return to school is a smooth transition. Preparation is the key on all fronts. Please keep us in mind to help in any way we can.

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