Preventative home & auto checks

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Maven
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Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Maven » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:03 am

We just had a potential major home disaster arise a few days ago. Long story short, it could have created carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and/or deem or home uninhabitable. The danger went on for 18 months before we detected it. Thankfully, all seems to be repairable and was a result of contractor error so it will be paid for by the contractor. A day later, my reliable Toyota Highlander broke down. That turned out to be an easy fix thankfully. Both issues could have been caught much earlier with a bit more awareness on our part.

My question is... what do you all do to try to avoid disasters (especially costly ones) with your homes or vehicles? We now have a thorough home maintenance checklist we will put into effect immediately. It covers monthly, quarterly and annual checks and maintenance. Any other advice?

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by RickBoglehead » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:06 am

A carbon monoxide detector should be top of everyone's list.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

mancich
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by mancich » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:26 am

For auto:

Follow manufacturer's maintenance schedule religiously, drive carefully, etc

For home, some thoughts that come to mind, in no particular order:
Periodic septic tank pumping (if you're on septic)
Yearly chimney cleaning
Annual roof inspection and gutters cleaned
Inspect attic during a heavy spring rain to check for leaks, then get it fixed immediately if one occurs
Change A/C and furnace filters, have A/C units inspected annually
Pest control (I prefer DIY) - ants, etc. Address as soon as you see any indication
Address any electrical issues immediately
Cut back or cut down trees that could pose a threat to your roof
Good quality bathroom fans to prevent moisture/mildew
Dehumidifier in basement
Have a dedicated "house" emergency fund

As we all know, addressing problems when they are small, or preventing them in the first place, is a lot less expensive and less of a hassle than letting them get larger. :beer

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Nate79
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Nate79 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:34 am

Regular car battery charging - this is a little OCD but the life of a car battery is improved if you keep it regularly charged up. Short tripping will not totally charge a car battery so I regularly put my smart charger (~every 2 months) on each car battery overnight to keep them topped off.

Smoke detector and CO detector testing (and ensure we have sufficient #).

Water detector near washing machine. Need to get one for the hot water heater next.

Check car oil and other fluids every ~1 month, and inspect for any other abnormality under the hood (hose and belt condition for example). Check for any leaks.

Check tire condition and tread depth.

Ensure all gutters are working to take water away from the house.

Regularly check in basement for any water leakage after heavy storm.

Topic Author
Maven
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Maven » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:55 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:06 am
A carbon monoxide detector should be top of everyone's list.
Absolutely agree. We have two and neither went off during this time frame. Thanks for all the responses. So far some things you've mentioned are not on our lists.

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NavyIC3
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by NavyIC3 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:21 am

Check smoke detectors and CO detectors on a regular basis. Know how to mitigate an emergency situation. Shut off valves for water, gas, oil. Electrical service panel-breakers, fuses.

Sandi_k
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Sandi_k » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:48 am

For our house, we proactively replaced the water heater within a year of moving in - apparently, it was the ORIGINAL water heater to the house, and was 34 years old. :shock: :shock:

For the car, I would much rather replace and repair things proactively than be stranded somewhere on my 50-mile-each-way daily commute. Things I've done:

- Follow maintenance recommendations in the owner's manual, like oil & filter changes, replace differential fluid, replace transmission fluid every 50k miles.

- Replace PCV valve every 90k.

- Replace thermostat and housing seal on radiator at 150k miles. Coolant replaced every 60k miles.

- Inspect water pump regularly. Replace at 150k if not previously replaced.

- Replace all hoses and belts at 200k, if not previously replaced.

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GMCZ71
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by GMCZ71 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:52 pm

“Tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used on the road. It is recommended that tires generally be replaced when they are six years or older."
Look for a number that starts with the letters “DOT,” followed by a series of 10-12 characters. This code, which is required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will tell you several things:

Week, year, and place of manufacture
John

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tooluser
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by tooluser » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:37 pm

Turn all water shutoff valves a quarter turn each way every year, to prevent them from freezing in place due to corrosion.
Replace all shutoff valves and hose bibbs with quarter-turn ball valves as they fail. They are easier to operate and more reliable.
Descale all faucet and shower nozzles every six months if you are in a hard water area. Don't let scale build up and ruin the metal.
Use synthetic oil in your car so you can change the oil less frequently, but no less frequently than once a year.
Never ignore the dash lights in your car. Get it taken care of sooner rather than later.
Join a neighborhood watch group or neighbor e-mail/internet group, to maintain awareness of local crime and building/zoning issues.
Try to do something nice but not required every day. Pick up trash at the park or in front of your neighbor's house, or let someone go in front of you in line. Then if you die, at least you can be pretty happy with that aspect of your life.
The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind. -- Adam Smith, 1776

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Davinci
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Davinci » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:27 pm

Follow manufacturer's maintenance schedule religiously, drive carefully, etc
Hi mancich,

Do you have recommendations where to do the manufacturer's maintenance schedule? I religously change the oil at Jiffy Lube and always decline the manufacturer recommendations thinking is an overkill at such places, should I do them there or find a good mechanic, any advice? How to know they are actually recommending what needs done done and not more? Definitely do not want go to the dealer since they charge an arm and a leg.

Thanks!
" Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" Leonardo Da Vinci.

supalong52
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by supalong52 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:00 am

Maven wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:03 am
We just had a potential major home disaster arise a few days ago. Long story short, it could have created carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and/or deem or home uninhabitable. The danger went on for 18 months before we detected it.
Can you tell us what happened? So we could detect it for ourselves and avoid what almost happened to you.

brajalle
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by brajalle » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:20 am

Davinci wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:27 pm
Follow manufacturer's maintenance schedule religiously, drive carefully, etc
Hi mancich,

Do you have recommendations where to do the manufacturer's maintenance schedule? I religously change the oil at Jiffy Lube and always decline the manufacturer recommendations thinking is an overkill at such places, should I do them there or find a good mechanic, any advice? How to know they are actually recommending what needs done done and not more? Definitely do not want go to the dealer since they charge an arm and a leg.

Thanks!
The maintenance schedule is typically found in your owners manual. I believe most can also be found online nowadays. Be sure to make sure you really understand the criteria if they give two schedules (for example, one is typically a "severe driving" schedule - which may not mean what you think). In many newer cars, there are actual sensors that will tell you these things. I'm guessing the manual will tell you what to do if the car's senors ever disagree with the maintenance schedule.

For homes -
- Read the owners manuals on your major appliances. They will tell you exactly what to do and how often. For example, how to maintain your dishwasher, washer & dryer, changing water heater anodes, etc.

Olemiss540
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Olemiss540 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:10 am

Sandi_k wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:48 am
For our house, we proactively replaced the water heater within a year of moving in - apparently, it was the ORIGINAL water heater to the house, and was 34 years old. :shock: :shock:

For the car, I would much rather replace and repair things proactively than be stranded somewhere on my 50-mile-each-way daily commute. Things I've done:

- Follow maintenance recommendations in the owner's manual, like oil & filter changes, replace differential fluid, replace transmission fluid every 50k miles.

- Replace PCV valve every 90k.

- Replace thermostat and housing seal on radiator at 150k miles. Coolant replaced every 60k miles.

- Inspect water pump regularly. Replace at 150k if not previously replaced.

- Replace all hoses and belts at 200k, if not previously replaced.
You are going to remove hoses and belts at 150k (to replace water pump) without replacing the belts and hoses at the same time?!

Like your list, but must say these things can be very vehicle dependent.
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.

bluebolt
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by bluebolt » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:26 am

A few more:

Clean dryer vent ducts
Clean refrigerator condenser coils
Inspect attic/crawl space regularly

Topic Author
Maven
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Maven » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:21 pm

supalong52 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:00 am
Maven wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:03 am
We just had a potential major home disaster arise a few days ago. Long story short, it could have created carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and/or deem or home uninhabitable. The danger went on for 18 months before we detected it.
Can you tell us what happened? So we could detect it for ourselves and avoid what almost happened to you.
Yes... we had a catastrophic hail storm in our area 1.5 years ago. Literally every home in the area had their roof replaced. Turns out the roofers jostled our furnace vent pipe in the process and it has been venting into our attic space rather than out through the roof. This caused massive moisture and mold and could have resulted in carbon monoxide danger. Thankfully, it seems repairable with mold remediation. This is not something that they check on an inspection - we had one. Rushed roofers during a very busy time for them.

michaeljc70
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:55 pm

I won't duplicate things I've already seen. I'll add flush the hot water tank annually. It gets rid of sediment and I do believe it extends the life.

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Watty
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Watty » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:18 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:34 am
Water detector near washing machine. Need to get one for the hot water heater next.
+1, ours is wireless and part of our alarm system so we will be notified of a leak if we are not home. It only cost about $20 as part of a Simplisafe system.

Some things I replace before they fail.

I replace car batteries when they are four years old even if they are not giving problems. There should be a sticker on the car battery with the manufacture month and year if you are not sure when you bought it.

It varies but I have replaced working natural gas water heaters when they were about 13 years old.

It varies but I have replaced working HVAC systems when they are 20-25 old. You can get really good prices in September because that is between the heating and cooling season so HVAC companies have little other work then.

I normally buy new relatively affordable cars that don't depreciate quickly that have a reputation for reliability. I then replace them when they are about 10 years or or have around 120k miles. A well maintained ten year old Corolla or Camry will sell for a surprisingly high price if you sell it yourself which makes doing this relatively affordable. These can usually last ten years with very little non-routine maintenance. My plan is to start watching for deals when my current car is about nine years old so I can wait about three years for a great deal to buy the next car.

This may not be the cheapest way to handle these things but my feeling is the savings of being able to get a good price on the replacements more or less offsets the cost of giving up a few extra years of service and the inconvenience of having the system have problems at a bad time.

I did not always do this. Maybe I have just had bad luck but I have had an A/C fail and need a repair on the hottest day of the year when it was over 100 degrees. I have also had a furnace stop working when there was snow and ice on the road and we had a baby in the house. For that one I was able to slip and slide to drive get a new thermocouple and install it myself. I also had a leaking water heater where I had a crew from a big box hardware store come out and replace it. They did not speak any English, only some eastern European language, and I don't just mean their English was limited - they spoke virtually no English.

Over the years I have also been stranded a few times when things like a starter or water pump failed while I was on vacation and far from my normal mechanic. Hint: If you are ever in Baker City Oregon(population 10,000) on a Friday afternoon that is the first weekend of elk hunting season and your clutch gives out, you are not going to get a new clutch until Monday.

After some experiences like that I feel a lot better about replacing things proactively when they are getting near the end of their expected service life.

Blake7
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Blake7 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:28 pm

Home water pressure check. I have a water pressure testing gauge that attaches to an outside faucet. I check the pressure every 6 months (I'm looking for about 60 PSI). Pressure regulators have a finite life (maybe 10 years), and when they fail, you get full street pressure. The street pressure where I live is about 120 PSI, which is too high and damage the plumbing and appliances.

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Watty
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Watty » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:37 pm

Some more tips;

1) If you do not have the owner's manual for something you can likely find it at the manufacturer's web site or by Googling the model number.

2) If you are not sure of the age of something there is likely a label with the serial number, model number, and manufacture date. You can take a picture of this label with your cell phone and it is much easier to read by zooming in on it.

3) If you Google the model number and a problem you are having, like "won't start", you will likely find suggestions about how to handle the problem.

michaeljc70
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:39 pm

Watty wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:37 pm
Some more tips;

1) If you do not have the owner's manual for something you can likely find it at the manufacturer's web site or by Googling the model number.

2) If you are not sure of the age of something there is likely a label with the serial number, model number, and manufacture date. You can take a picture of this label with your cell phone and it is much easier to read by zooming in on it.

3) If you Google the model number and a problem you are having, like "won't start", you will likely find suggestions about how to handle the problem.
The first thing I do when I get a new appliance, electronic device, furnace or whatever is download the manual to a folder on my laptop. Then I throw the paper manual out. At one time I had a file cabinet full of manuals.

2015
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by 2015 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:15 pm

Check regularly for mold around all areas involving water (i.e., dishwasher, disposal, refrigerator ice maker, washer, hot water heater, windows, etc.). I learned this the hard way.

Millennial
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Millennial » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:35 am

Blake7 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:28 pm
Home water pressure check. I have a water pressure testing gauge that attaches to an outside faucet. I check the pressure every 6 months (I'm looking for about 60 PSI). Pressure regulators have a finite life (maybe 10 years), and when they fail, you get full street pressure. The street pressure where I live is about 120 PSI, which is too high and damage the plumbing and appliances.
This may be good advice for anyone who has a pressure reducing valve (PRV), but they are very rare. I work in the municipal water industry, and only a tiny fraction oh houses I see have PRVs. The vast majority of the time, the street pressure is in the right range for internal plumbing.

We usually only see PRVs at lower elevation houses within hilly communities. In general, raising the pressure raises the cost (more pumping uses more electricity, taller tanks are more expensive to construct, pipes for higher pressure must be thicker) so municipalities try not to increase the pressure over what's needed.

Silverado
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Silverado » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:50 am

Millennial wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:35 am
Blake7 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:28 pm
Home water pressure check. I have a water pressure testing gauge that attaches to an outside faucet. I check the pressure every 6 months (I'm looking for about 60 PSI). Pressure regulators have a finite life (maybe 10 years), and when they fail, you get full street pressure. The street pressure where I live is about 120 PSI, which is too high and damage the plumbing and appliances.
This may be good advice for anyone who has a pressure reducing valve (PRV), but they are very rare. I work in the municipal water industry, and only a tiny fraction oh houses I see have PRVs. The vast majority of the time, the street pressure is in the right range for internal plumbing.

We usually only see PRVs at lower elevation houses within hilly communities. In general, raising the pressure raises the cost (more pumping uses more electricity, taller tanks are more expensive to construct, pipes for higher pressure must be thicker) so municipalities try not to increase the pressure over what's needed.
Interesting. I have never owned a house without a PRV. Three in dead flat plains states, and two in somewhat hilly areas. Current house is on high ground in hilly area, and it has one.

hershey102d
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by hershey102d » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:59 am

At least once test for radon gas. Kits are inexpensive. We got ours free at the local health department. We tested both the crawlspace and first floor.

fundseeker
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by fundseeker » Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:07 am

To avoid water leak disasters (e.g. busted washer hose upstairs) while away for more than a day, the last thing I do before leaving the house is turn off the water to the entire house at the turn off valve (or spigot) in our basement, and open and close one faucet to relieve the pressure. Guess I could go out to the main on the street, but that's too much work.

Make sure all rain water flows away from the house. I recently even had two yards of soil delivered here which I placed around the house where the soil had settled to ensure that the slope is away from the house.

Blake7
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Blake7 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:19 am

Millennial wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:35 am
Blake7 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:28 pm
Home water pressure check. I have a water pressure testing gauge that attaches to an outside faucet. I check the pressure every 6 months (I'm looking for about 60 PSI). Pressure regulators have a finite life (maybe 10 years), and when they fail, you get full street pressure. The street pressure where I live is about 120 PSI, which is too high and damage the plumbing and appliances.
This may be good advice for anyone who has a pressure reducing valve (PRV), but they are very rare. I work in the municipal water industry, and only a tiny fraction oh houses I see have PRVs. The vast majority of the time, the street pressure is in the right range for internal plumbing.

We usually only see PRVs at lower elevation houses within hilly communities. In general, raising the pressure raises the cost (more pumping uses more electricity, taller tanks are more expensive to construct, pipes for higher pressure must be thicker) so municipalities try not to increase the pressure over what's needed.
That’s interesting, PRVs are standard in my S. CA city of 50k, so I’ve always thought they were everywhere. My city is at about 1k feet elevation and our water is pumped up to storage tanks in the hills above the city, so maybe that’s why.

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gasdoc
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by gasdoc » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:38 am

Davinci wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:27 pm
Follow manufacturer's maintenance schedule religiously, drive carefully, etc
Hi mancich,

Do you have recommendations where to do the manufacturer's maintenance schedule? I religously change the oil at Jiffy Lube and always decline the manufacturer recommendations thinking is an overkill at such places, should I do them there or find a good mechanic, any advice? How to know they are actually recommending what needs done done and not more? Definitely do not want go to the dealer since they charge an arm and a leg.

Thanks!
I think it is best to find a small shop, with a small group of mechanics in your local area. I take all three of our cars to them for everything, so they know me when I walk in the door. I have them look at the major systems, including the brakes, and top off the fluids, when I take the cars for oil changes. I used to take the cars to a "Jiffy Lube" kind of place for the oil changes, but found they didn't seem to care about me and our cars for the long run. I like that I can ask the local mechanic for advice about cars and get honest answers. The prices are a little above the "jiffy Lube" prices, but not much, and the people are real mechanics and can help with questions about other aspects of the car when I need them. I am surprised how much the local guys have been able to do that I assumed I needed the dealers for. Our local mechanic is actually a Goodyear Tire and Auto place, but it may vary in different communities which place is better for you.

They seem to make their money on tire sales, and I admit that I do give their products the "edge," when it is time to buy expensive tires.

Our three cars include an Infinity, an Acura, and a Ford.

gasdoc

Hockey10
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:14 am

Blake7 wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:28 pm
Home water pressure check. I have a water pressure testing gauge that attaches to an outside faucet. I check the pressure every 6 months (I'm looking for about 60 PSI). Pressure regulators have a finite life (maybe 10 years), and when they fail, you get full street pressure. The street pressure where I live is about 120 PSI, which is too high and damage the plumbing and appliances.
This is good advice.

About 3 years ago, we had a flood in our house caused by the water supply line to a toilet. One of the steps I took after the flood was to test the water pressure. It was almost 90 PSI. I don't know if the high water pressure had anything to do with the flood or not, but I had a pressure relief valve installed and set the pressure at 50 PSI.

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Maven
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Maven » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:53 am

All great advice. Thanks to all who replied!

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Davinci
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by Davinci » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:05 pm

I think it is best to find a small shop, with a small group of mechanics in your local area. I take all three of our cars to them for everything, so they know me when I walk in the door. I have them look at the major systems, including the brakes, and top off the fluids, when I take the cars for oil changes. I used to take the cars to a "Jiffy Lube" kind of place for the oil changes, but found they didn't seem to care about me and our cars for the long run. I like that I can ask the local mechanic for advice about cars and get honest answers. The prices are a little above the "jiffy Lube" prices, but not much, and the people are real mechanics and can help with questions about other aspects of the car when I need them. I am surprised how much the local guys have been able to do that I assumed I needed the dealers for. Our local mechanic is actually a Goodyear Tire and Auto place, but it may vary in different communities which place is better for you.
gasdoc,

Thank you very much for the advice! I will find small and reputable mechanic shop to take my cars to them. I had work done in "jiffy lube" type places and they have not a good job and you are right they don't typically care about their clients.

Cheers,
" Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" Leonardo Da Vinci.

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gasdoc
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Re: Preventative home & auto checks

Post by gasdoc » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:05 pm

Davinci wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:05 pm
I think it is best to find a small shop, with a small group of mechanics in your local area. I take all three of our cars to them for everything, so they know me when I walk in the door. I have them look at the major systems, including the brakes, and top off the fluids, when I take the cars for oil changes. I used to take the cars to a "Jiffy Lube" kind of place for the oil changes, but found they didn't seem to care about me and our cars for the long run. I like that I can ask the local mechanic for advice about cars and get honest answers. The prices are a little above the "jiffy Lube" prices, but not much, and the people are real mechanics and can help with questions about other aspects of the car when I need them. I am surprised how much the local guys have been able to do that I assumed I needed the dealers for. Our local mechanic is actually a Goodyear Tire and Auto place, but it may vary in different communities which place is better for you.
gasdoc,

Thank you very much for the advice! I will find small and reputable mechanic shop to take my cars to them. I had work done in "jiffy lube" type places and they have not a good job and you are right they don't typically care about their clients.

Cheers,
:beer Cheers.

gasdoc

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