Boys Under The Hood Podcast 1/21/2020

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Transcription of Boys Under The Hood

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00:00                     And now Boys Under The Hood with James Stephenson from Precision Auto Repair in West Springfield, MA and Pat Kelly. So James, how’s the shoulder doing man. It’s awful. It’s terrible. So if you missed it, James I guess it was about three, four weeks ago was visiting the Bronx zoo with his family and one of the one of the gorillas was able to get his arm through the cage and grabbed a little toddler. James flew into action, saved the kid, who is a little girl, I don’t know if the gorilla is still hurt, but in the process, you, you did something to your shoulder. I did. I put a beating on that girl. But that was a big gun. That was a big day. But even that kind of guy who steps up for that too. That was, yeah, that gorilla didn’t stand a chance. How’s it heeling up? As good as a shoulder surgery could, you know, I’m out of the sling finally so that’s, that’s good. Is there any support at all you have on it now that are just, no, just it’s, it’s normal now and there’s just just limited, just don’t, don’t move it a lot, you know. Cool.

We can continue to talk about that if you want. No, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Good to keep talking going on about that. If you want or we could talk about your fire stick that has all the channels and every, does that pick up local all the local channels for you to or is it just the just the bigger games. Welcome to boys into the hood. James Stephenson from Precision Auto Repair in West Springfield joins this every Tuesday morning at eight o’clock. And we take your car care questions a couple of ways you can get a hold of us and send the questions in on James’s Facebook page. and I also had someone email me, And that’s one of the questions we’re going to address today. So many ways you can get a hold of us if you old car questions. James is the expert man. He runs the business. So definitely send them into us. A lot of times too, what we do is we you know, we’ll get a lot of similar questions, you know, based on time of year, like, Hey, I’m tire pressure, right? My light came on, it’s gotten cold or something like that. So, you know, we’ll really try to target that type of question two, if we begin to get a lot of like bulk of one type of question. Does that make sense? Yeah. Oh yeah. You know, so yeah, I mean just ask, there is no such thing as a stupid question. We get people that even asked to just please, please don’t use my name cause I know that this is a dumb question.

02:05                     Don’t worry about it. We’ll won’t pick on you unless you’re rude and then maybe we will a little bit.

Our first question comes from Ellie in Hampden. Elliott, she maybe she drives a Toyota land cruiser. She’s chosen the Shriners hospitals for children as her charity. They’re doing just wonderful work. They’re very well done. Ellie writes, I’m new to maintaining my own car after losing my husband last fall to his personal trainer. Yikes. That’s a lot of information right off the bat. In a car and a car question, my brakes started making noise. So I took it into the shop he always used and they started asking me a ton of questions. I got so confused. I ended up leaving. My main question is about the Brake Rotor, which is the biggest cost. What is a machined rotor? Can all rotors be machined? And what determines if they can be machined?

02:59                     So this is the part that the Brake Pad pushes up against. If you look inside your your wheel, you to stand next to your car, look at your wheels. There’s like a, a big metal disc inside there and that’s called your Brake Rotor. Now when you step on the brake pedal that’s in the car, the Brake Pads press against that metal disc and that metal disc it just gets incredibly hot, right? Friction will create heat. So it just gets incredibly hot. Now that metal disc needs to be able to hold the pressure of that stopping force of the pads pushing against it. And it also needs to be able to dissipate that heat that the the Brake Pads and that friction will generate. So Brake Rotors have something called a minimum thickness. Okay. So what machining a rotor means is you’re basically just shaving down the outside edge of it to make the surface nice and new and clean. You want a nice true flat surface. Okay. So there’s a couple of other things you do. You measure the minimum thickness, but you also want to measure what something called runout, right? Every rotor, even though it’s perfectly true as it’s mounted on the hub. When you step on the brake and then the pedal releases, what actually pushes the caliper back, it’s, the rotor actually has a little bit of wobble, but it’s usually the way that the, the hub sits into the steering knuckle or spindle area. So everything all kind of sits in there and there actually is just a very, very minor wobbling. It’s called runout. Every car is supposed to have that. You don’t feel it, you don’t know it as you begin to drive the vehicle. And sometimes if you go, when you step on your brake and you feel the whole car begin to kind of shake, that’s something called excessive runout or a Brake Pulsation.

04:36                     So you would measure for run out and then you would measure a minimum thickness and then you would make just a very quick calculation to determine how much you have to shave that rotor down. And does it sit outside of the minimum thickness? Does that make sense? And what we’re talking about to quite literally shave it down. So if you, if you, if you look at like a record, an album, okay. And imagine that you’re looking across the top of it. There’s the little bumps on it. That’s what the process does. It shaves, literally shaves down those bumps to make it flat again. And the, exactly, something like more or less like that. Now if it, if it looks like a record, the surface, you’re going to hear that when you step on the brake. So it’s gotta be perfectly machine.

05:18                     So it looks almost like glass. It’s a perfectly smooth surface, but you’re, you’re 100% like the back side of a CD almost makes it a better analogy. Yeah, exactly. It just, it shaves it right down. It just takes off that top, top couple of layers. And then you’ve got your surface there. Replacing a rotor is just, you get a brand new rotor, you put it on the car. And you know, when we put rotors on cars, we’ll check them just for for that run out to make sure that that run out is within spec. Cause nothing worse than putting on a brand new rotor that’s got a pulsation already, you know, built into it. Now, some cars some cars actually don’t allow you to machine the rotors. They’re just called discard only white performance. You know, they’re, they’re already thin enough or they’re drilled or crossroad or slotted or something.

06:05                     You know, there’s all kinds of different, different reasons. But some manufacturers just don’t even want you to to machine them. They just want you to just replace them. So cause it used to be, it used to be a very common thing and they used to call it turning of the rotors turning. Yeah. And I remember like I remember seeing the machine it was on, it basically looked like a record player with the hard needle and it just slowly turns it. And as it turns it, the needle moves into the center and eventually it’s flat again. That’s it. But now, so are they thinner? Are they made thinner now? So that’s not as common or will be thinner? Yeah, I mean some, some will be thinner, some are just you know, just the, the way that they’re made you, you can never properly machine them.

06:43                     So some higher performance cars, they’ll have little holes all drilled in there. You can’t machine those, you know, the, the, you’d destroy the tip on the lave and would snag in it. It would just, it would, yeah. Would get caught. Cause you’re, you’re literally pressing that, you know, that tip of that lave into that. So you can grind down that surface. If there’s, you know, major imperfections or holes within it, you’re, you’re not going to be able to machine that. So, you know, some just want to make sure it’s a cleaner job, you know. Now is that something that a mechanic would know right away, whether they can be a good one? Yeah. A good one. Yeah. You know somebody on Facebook that has no idea about cars, but they’re just trying to give you advice cause they’re an expert on everything. They’re probably not gonna know.

07:26                     But somebody that has actual knowledge of a car can look all that stuff up too. Some are owners actually used to have the minimum thickness written right on there. You know, it’d be kind of stamped in there. But other than that, it’s very easy to find you know, any licensed repair facility that has the, you know, all of the proper specs and things like that, that we look up online. You would you’d be able to quickly find that that’s never been a problem. Determining that. It’s just,what’s the best course of action for the customer because you’re going to have a little bit more labor machining the rotor, but you’re gonna have the lower part cost or you’re going to have a higher part cost and then less labor if you replace the rotor.

08:05                     For me personally, I like replacing rotors. I think it’s a cleaner, better, easier to warranty job. It’s also faster, especially if the customer’s in a little bit of a hurry. Not to say that you don’t Machine Brake Rotors, but you don’t do it as much as you used to. Years ago. Like when I started working on cars, every Brake Job for the most part got machined, you know now it’s just, it’s not that way, you know? And then with the cost of rotors and everything coming down significantly over the years, it it really kind of the same. You know, you’re listening to the Boys Under The Hood. James Stephenson from Precision Auto Repair is here every Tuesday morning at eight o’clock. Did you like the the egg carton that I propped the door with, so I was going to bring that up.

08:46                     That’s really nice. Yeah, it’s high tech. Is that like a two, two dozen carton? That was the most, that’s the big one. That’s a dozen and a half. One a dozen and a half. That’s a really, that was a professional carton. Well we need those when the chickens get crazy in the spring and summertime cause they just start popping off eggs everywhere. I don’t even know how they do cause it’s not a big animal. Yeah, right. I don’t you hear him in the hen house too. Like, you know when they’re laying an egg, it’s like [inaudible] and I’m like, you’re damn right. That hurts. Oh my God. I mean, come on. Can you integrate chicken? So the chicken sitting there just minding its own business, being a chicken, then all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, ah, but then every single day they just go crazy. Yeah. They just, I don’t know, man.

09:35                     They were watching the chickens hatch at the the biggie. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re wicked cute. The chicks have fewer things forever. Since I was a little kid, I go there, I’ll stand there for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, just waiting for one, you know, staring at an egg hole, like willing it to have a little bird pop out of it, lets you see the look for the first crack in it. Like that. That’s it. Then I’m there. I’m stuck. I don’t care what’s going on in the rest of the day. We’re gonna talk about the the chicken show. The it’s not the poultry, is it the poultry show? A show just of chickens, chickens and roosters and ducks. It really is, you know, your kids would love it. What do you do? You just walk around you. Are you buying chicken? Some chickens?

10:10                     Yeah. Some people sell their chickens, but a lot of them, I wouldn’t buy a chicken. I just go to your house and steal a couple more. Well, when it gets the kids closer, I’ll tell you about it. I went there, I went there last year and I couldn’t believe it that it was as big as it was hundreds of. And some of them, like some of the roosters, they stay like three feet tall. Dude. Really? You do not want to mess with some of these, these birds, but it’s your Brookie and Maddie would love it. They would be beside themselves. Oh yeah. It’s, it’s really, really interesting. I think you’re overestimating their attention span. [inaudible]

10:47                     Well maybe I am. You’re listening to your mom, man. We’d be in the parking lot just getting there and they’d be like, can we go to Chipolte now? Send your questions into us at Precision Auto Repair in West Springfield. Last week we received an email asking us to stop talking about the sales process for dealers. Mainly to stay away from talking about financing because this one salesman lost a commission when the buyer chose their own bank.

11:27                     So, yeah, I guess the what did we talk about? What was it that we talked about last week that this was not even know what I talked about today so far? You know, last week there was a question from a woman that was ultimately buying a car and we ended up segwaying into talking about, you know, how dealerships, if you go in there with cash, right, this isn’t, you know, the, the mid eighties anymore, a cash deal isn’t going to get you a cheaper price on a car. All right. So they actually, the dealership will make more money if you finance, right. Was the, the premise behind that conversation and since this guy is upset about it, I guess we could just talk about it again for those that didn’t, that didn’t hear it.

12:18                     So then if you go in and you buy a car years ago used to say, you know, well, what’s your, what’s your cash price? And you, you probably could get a cheaper price, but says also a tax implication there as well. So it used to be, Hey man, how about if I paid your cash and save the tax? And so then you’re counting on the other person to misrepresent what they sold at four. So because cash is not traceable, basically that’s the in and out. I don’t like to live in the shady world that you live in. And I like to think that the dealer would know that it was probably going to be an easier transaction now, the guaranteed sold unit. Now that would be the way that I would look at it, Patrick. But you know, you’re free to have your own, your own point of view on that.

12:56                     Judging. I just, I’ve, I’ve done cash transactions before. Absolutely. You know, the the, the, the dealership will make money on the financing and that’s not always a bad thing because in some cases there’ll be a promotional rate that will be less than you know, what you could get from your bank if your bank is at like 3%. Maybe this promotional rate is 0% or 1%. So it’s not evil to finance with a, a dealership. But you know the dealership, yes, they, they make money on the financing. They’ll make you know, a couple percent on the financing and on top of it they’ll try to sell something called gap insurance. So if you are trying to purchase a car and you basically don’t want to put any money down or you don’t have any money to put down you would purchase a gap, right?

13:41                     Because the second you register that brand new car, it’s going to lose what, like 15, 20% value. Then you drive down the street, somebody smashes into you and the car is only worth what it’s worth. So gap would cover the loan to value amount. Does that make sense? It does cause they’ll come after you for the extra money the insurance won’t cover. Right. And then the biggest scam out there is the not that gap, this or any of that stuff. It is a scam. It’s just this is the biggest scam probably in terms of car-buying is the aftermarket. Warranties just there. Just don’t buy them. They’re terrible. They’re absolutely terrible. You know, they, they limit what kind of parts can go in your car. So they only want some type of like lower quality aftermarket or used part. They don’t pay all of the labor in all cases.

14:26                     They just build ad it’s, it’s terrible. I’ve seen, we actually have one at our shop right now that’s been tied up for three weeks, three weeks, just sitting there waiting on an inspector. Three weeks. This customer is not allowed to drive the vehicle. They can’t take it. They can’t do anything. Right. Warranty company wants to make sure it’s in our possession the entire time and the customer can’t mess with it. Customer didn’t mess with it to begin with. They drove it, it broke, and now it’s sitting there for three weeks waiting for an inspector. I’d be crazy, right? Think about how you would feel if you just paid $3,000 for this warranty. I think this person’s had this car for about a year, paid $300 for this warranty. Now finally you need to go use it for a stupid issue and three weeks later you’re still waiting on an answer.

15:07                     And they’re not, you know, the warranty company hasn’t agreed to pay for anything. So this person now has this rental for three weeks waiting on approval. How much does the rental cost? I’m at 30 35 $40 a day or something. You know what I mean? That’s insane. That also speaks to, and let’s face it, that’s insurance, right? When you find that and that speaks to any insurance company and you see them on T V right? I’ll act in like they’re your friends. Oh, where are your buddy? Insurance companies do not stay in business paying out claims. Insurance companies make money by denying claims. It’s how they make money. Yeah. So don’t expect that when something happens that they’re going to show up at your house. You know, homeowners is a good example. If you have to file a homeowners claim, good luck to you. You better have everything documented.

15:48                     And I mean like your clothes, your belongings. And that’s why they say, you know, a good idea to kind of go around your house with a recorder and record your belongings so that if the time comes, God forbid it does, you’ll have proof for it because the last thing they want to do is pay out a claim. That’s a great tip. Go around and just record it periodically, once every couple months or something. I had some friends of mine, man, and they lost the house. Remember the tornadoes rolled through here, lost everything all the way down to the foundation and what they had to do to get their money back for their stuff cause they hadn’t documented their clothes, their stuff. You know, you got to do it. We had ’em so our building got hit directly. My, our old shop was in the footprint of the the MGM casino.

16:30                     Yes. So where that parking garage is, where you exit onto union street, that was where my my old shop was. And you know, obviously since torn down now that they couldn’t fit the building on top of him. Right, right. So thanks for that. But when we got hit by that tornado down there, my my experience actually was just the opposite. They the insurance, we got hit with a tornado on Wednesday, on Thursday, the adjuster came out to kind of take a, like a preliminary list, but we didn’t know what we had lost or had at all. And he just said, if you think you lost it, just write it down. He goes, if you didn’t, we can just deal with it later. Okay. So Friday I took an inventory. I had a check by Monday. Wow. Yeah. My first check by Monday, I don’t think they ever, like, they never gave us any pushback or anything like that.

17:14                     We provided receipts and then, you know, what we had or didn’t have or lost or was damaged or whatever. So, you know, I, I had a as good an experience as you could possibly have in such a bad situation. You know, job well done there by whoever the adjuster was because we use I don’t know who the adjuster was. Our agent really went to bat for us, Bob Proulx out of a Berkshire Insurance in Longmeadow. Great team over there. But yeah, I mean back to the back to the question. Yeah. I mean, you know, one of the ways that I will if I’m going to purchase a car and a, I’m going to finance, sometimes you’ll have rebates that are only available if you are to finance so you can get a cheaper price on the car that way.

17:59                     So there may be new car incentives or something like that. In that case, what I have done in the past is I will ultimately finance the car at that rate, get the cheaper price, and then you have like a 30 day period where you can’t pay off the car and then I’ll just pay it off after that, that period so that the dealership can get those rebates and everything. And then once the transaction is settled, so to speak, you can just pay it off that way if you want. If you’re, you know, if you’re purchasing a car in cash. Does that make sense? Does, you know? So take whatever they’re willing to give you, let them make their money however they need to and then, you know, just pay it off the way that you initially intended to. So, you know, dealerships aren’t evil.

18:36                     They’re, they got these big, huge places so that because they, they make money, you know you know, sometimes the rate can be, can be less, you know, at the dealership. If you need gap insurance, you honestly, you’re buying a car that you can’t afford. So you probably should just look at another car if you’re in a situation where you need gap and then the warranties just stay away from them unless they’re a, they’re certified pre owned. There’s a big difference there. The certified pre owned is essentially an extension of the factory warranty. And in some cases even better where the aftermarket warranties that you would buy from some bigger dealerships. But you know, mainly smaller dealerships, never use them. Never buy one, ever totally stay away from ’em. Just put maybe $20 a week aside into a savings account. And then if you don’t need the money to repair your car or if you need it, it’s there at some point and if you don’t need it then you just use it to go on a vacation or you use it for a down payment on the next one.

19:29                     Right. Boys Under The Hood. James Stephenson from Precision Auto Repair in West Springfield sits across from me. I’m Pat Kelly, appreciate you joining us today and submit your car questions to or James’s Facebook page or however you can get them through as get them to us and we’ll answer them here on the radio. Let’s jump right back into it.

Denise in Longmeadow drives a Volvo XC 70. She’s chosen the Shriners hospitals for children. Denise writes, I was leaving my favorite restaurant the other night in Hamden and my check engine light came on. I was alarmed. So I called the repair shop the next day. I wanted to have it looked at but was appalled that they needed to charge me to look at the vehicle. Body shops never charged for repair estimates.

20:20                     They told me what was wrong and the, the car is broken. Even after fixing the car, what should I do now? They told me what was wrong. She was at, and the car is still broken. Hampden House, you ever go there? Oh yeah. At the eggplant tower. They do a nice job there, man. That thing will fatten you up. Nice. We went down there. We’re there for a thirsty, thirsty. I think we scared them and him that house. Yeah. This was a couple of years ago. It sure Lois. I mean we brought a ton of people so they, they had to be thrilled from that respect that it’s not sure if they were ready for the music to be blaring and they’re like that. But I love the Hampton house. LA Cucina. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. We go there a lot.

20:58                     I like it. They made great espresso martinis, spry espresso martinis. Real good. That’s the second time you you, you turn the whole conversation over to alcohol today. How are you doing? You all right? Long week already. A little bit shaky this morning. Honestly, I mean I’m not going to lie to you. Martin Luther King day is a like your st Patrick’s day. Yeah, that’s what it is. Yeah. That’s funny. So you know what Denise in the past eight months, one of the the, the most asked questions and we kind of touched on this earlier is why do people have to want to pay to have their car look that? And the reality is cause it’s expensive to, to have all of the equipment and training tools and everything that you need to be able to properly diagnose your car. Plus it takes time, right?

21:46                     So if you go to a body shop and you want an estimate on something or just going to do a visual inspection of it, okay. If the car is a got a scratch on the bumper of a newer car, it’s probably pretty easy to estimate that damage that you can physically see. Correct. An engine has about a thousand pieces to it. Okay. And you are now supposed to, as a technician, determine which one of those thousand pieces is malfunctioning internally causing a Check Engine Light, even though that part is internal as well. Right. How would you know that? No, you wouldn’t. You can’t see it. You know, and even even a, a, a diagnostic scan tool that maybe will put you in the area, but that’s not going to tell you exactly what’s wrong with it. There’s no such tool that exists. There’s no tool built in the world today that will tell you exactly what is wrong with your car by plugging it in.

22:41                     And it does not exist on any level of auto repair. Whether it’s basics or the best dealership around it just does not ignore it. It doesn’t exist. It’s nowhere. And that makes sense. I’m glad that she actually, she’s the one that brought up the the body shop stuff, right? Cause it’s crystal clear to you there’s, there’s no digging around. I mean I’d imagine if the car had like a crap load of damage, like it’s close to being totaled, it’s gonna take him more time to go over it. Whatever. What happens is the body shop will pull it apart. So body shop will say, okay, your initial estimate is, is $2,000 for this major, major front end collision collision. Now they take everything apart and they do something called a supplement. Okay. Now that we’ve got it apart, we’re able to see all the additional damage.

23:21                     And then, you know, now you have your, your true estimate. Right. Does that make sense? And they’ll send it off to either you or your insurance company or, or whoever. In the end, the insurance company ends up paying for that anyway. Right. So yeah, but they’ve got to have their initial estimate and then so that’s what they don’t charge for. But it’s totally, it’s different. You know, it’s different. So if you you know, if you allowed me to take your car apart and you are going to definitely pay for it, I can tell you exactly what was wrong inside as well, you know, so I don’t, I don’t know. It’s kind of apples and oranges. You know, you’re, you’re comparing something that you can physically see that’s on the outside of the vehicle and, and very visible in most cases. Versus something that’s internal, a moving component that’s causing something else.

24:08                     Like it’s just, it’s apples to rocks. And this isn’t just precision. I mean this, this is every place you take. She never brought the car to us, but the, the thing that I can say is that I, I know the shop that she brought the car to and cause people will, the, we typically will leave the name of the shop out of wheat. Not typically. We always leave the name of the shop out of the person’s question. Just because we don’t want anybody to think negatively of somebody based on somebody else’s negative or perceived negative experience or interaction with that shop. If I have a friend that owns a shop and somebody asks a question, I always call that shop and I ask them, Hey, what happened? Or be aware of this. Maybe you could call that customer and try to make it right or something right.

24:52                     Because in some cases, good customers, they just, they don’t complain to the shop, they’ll just, they’ll never come back and you know, that doesn’t help the shop. So, you know, if the shop doesn’t know that there’s an issue, they can’t fix it. So you know, in a lot of cases I will call that other shop as long as I know them and I’ll tell them, Hey, look, this happened in this case, this woman was given a list of things that she actually needed to repair. And then she told, chose to repair one and she said she had another Mechanic that could do the job cheaper. And she chose not to do the majority of the list of things so that, that would be, in this case, why her car is still broken. She just never actually wanted to repair the car. But then she took some time to ask us this question and that’s great.

25:32                     I’m glad we were able to clarify what the difference is between a body shop and a repair shop. Well, can you imagine if your whole day was just looking at cars and diagnosing them and just like not getting paid at all because all the diagnosis were free if you break down, you know, the, the time, the tools, the training, everything, you know, last week I think we touched on this, you know, one of our main scan tools for Check Engine Lights is about $20,000 and we’ve got to have at least four different scan tools, different ones because there is no like one size fits all scan tool either. You’ve got to have some that only work on certain European Cars and then some that only work on certain Asian or domestic or you know, whatever. And then you’ve got special ones that are just for programming tires and all this other stuff.

26:15                     So with all of that comes updates at a thousand couple thousand dollars a year per tool. On top of that. Now you’ve got to train your technician and your tech or your technician has to have a bunch of other little tools that he needs to be able to diagnose all that stuff on top of it, you need electricity in the shop, right? I need all that stuff. So without even getting into the business lesson of all of that, it takes time, right? It takes a lot of time. And what happens with diagnosis is people will think, and not all people, but just some people will think and it’s just cause they don’t know, they’ll think, well there’s a computer you just plug it in and that’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. Auto zone does that auto zone, you know if you want to buy some parts there, that’s great.

26:54                     But auto zone is a part store and their job is to sell you parts. So when they plug in their, you know, whatever they plug in, right? Whatever their basic, very generic scan tool is. What it does is it spits out a list of common parts that typically get replaced for that repair. Could be this. It could be one of these 10 things right now, Patrick has to go inside the store, purchase the part, and then he has to what? We’re going to look up on YouTube, how to replace it, right? And then you’re going to probably screw it up, right? And you’re going to need to go back to the parts store and buy another tool or whatever. You’re going to turn this 10 minute job into an all day project because you don’t know what you’re doing and I’m not going to do the job right then the light’s still going to be on.

27:33                     So now you need to go back and they’re going to clear it for you, and then you’re going to drive around for a couple of days and then the light is going to come back on and you’re going to have the same exact code and now what are you going to do? You can go back to the park store and you’re going to go through this whole gamut again and now it’s going to be a month and few hundred dollars and however many wasted days that you’ve spent trying to work on this car, all to replace what they said were common failure parts, right? The difference that you get at a repair shop is the repair shop will say, okay, this is the exact part that is bad and this is why it’s bad and this is how much it’s going to cost and this is how long it’s gonna take.

28:08                     And they’re going to tell you all of that stuff. And the other thing that repair shops gonna do is they’re going to obviously do the work for you, but they’re going to re they’re going to warranty it. So should that part go bad? Should something not be right. Then you’ve got somebody you can go back to and say, Hey look, you know, you guys are supposed to be the experts. Prove it. You know? Does that make sense? It does make sense. You know? So the, there, there’s a huge difference there, right? And we’ve used this analogy before, and I stole this from somebody else. A customer actually gave it to me. Diagnosis is like a high rise building, alright? Empire state building, and you’ve got however many floors are in the empire state of how many floors are in there? 80 a hundred. 100. Let’s just call it a hundred.

28:46                     I don’t even know. But there’s a lot of floors. All right? Every floor, let’s say, has a hundred rooms. What diagnosis is gonna do is it’s gonna put you on the 82nd floor, okay? And it’s going to say, figure it out now. So the technician is going to have to check every single room, all 100 rooms on that, that floor, and figure out where the problem is. All right? What a part store does is they say, all right, you’re on the 82nd, the 41st, and the the 93rd floor and just go by all of this stuff and something in here is going to fix that issue. Good luck. You know? And if you need more parts, we can sell you more parts. Right? Does that make sense? It’s asinine. You know, that’s the difference between a part store and then diagnosis part stores are great if you want to buy parts, you don’t want a part store trying to diagnose your car because it’s going to cost you a lot of time, aggravation, you know money and I’m, you know, I’m glad you bring up time.

29:45                     That’s one of the things that I’m always talking with Kim about when we don’t, we don’t debate it a lot, but anytime there’s like a do a DIY project, right? I, I always look at how long it’s going to take me on my day off or how long it’s going to take us on our day off. And I say to her, is it worth putting in 10 hours on your day off to save 100 bucks? Cause it’s not me, not to me it’s not. I’d rather have somebody who knows what the hell they’re doing. I’d rather pay a guy to do my landscaping then for me to do it half assed at twice as much time on my day off. So the bottom line is you want a pro to look at your car because you’re wasting a lot of time in addition to the process of trying to chase down the right part, if you’re getting that basic diagnosis from a parts shop.

30:34                     Sure. And I do love our local Napa here by the way. Napa is great. Yeah. Napa does an awesome job. All right. You know, all these, these parts stores do an awesome job sourcing and selling parts and they’re helpful, you know, very helpful and they can give you a lot, a lot of great information. All right. They’re just not, don’t use them as a diagnostic tool. Like that’s just not what it is. Use them to tell you, Hey, you can continue to drive the vehicle with this light on until you can get to an actual shop that can repair the car. And then the shop will in some cases buy the apart from them and then put it in the car if they choose to use that vendor. But that would be really the only capacity that I would use them to. I don’t know, scan your car in any, any way, shape or form.

31:19                     Does that make sense? It does. You know, we do offer Free Diagnosis at a Precision Auto to for existing customers. You just have to roll in a, sorry, enroll in our what’s called Precision Pride Program. It has stickers on my truck first. First hour diagnosis, always free forever. And then you also, or you would get 5% off repairs, so one or the other. So if you come in for diagnosis today, we will do the diagnosis for free. Or if you just came in for, you know, just service or something, you get 5% off, but it’s a totally free program. You give the shop a call, three, six, three zero three zero six, we get you enrolled. Takes all of a minute, not a big deal. And it’s totally free. You’re listening to the Boys Under The Hood. James Stephenson, owner operator, Precision Auto Repair in West Springfield.

32:05                     So did the guys listen to the show? The guys in the shop? They listen in the shop too. Yeah. I love those boys. They work hard. They’re a good group of guys. Yeah. They’re, they’re a, a, a very, very good group of guys. We we’re blessed.

Our next question comes from Eric who’s chosen the open pantry and this is one that came to me last week and I start laughing because this has happened to me. My question concerns rodents living inside the chipmunks or mice. I know that they may be attracted to eating wires or bringing in their own NES. What’s a good way for an automobile to keep these pests out? I’ve used mothballs and netting over the intake before.

32:53                     Any ideas or thoughts? Thank you. That’s a good question. It is, you know, very relevant to this time of year seat [inaudible] all the little critters will want to go find a nice warm place to hide in the wintertime. It’s what, one degree out two degrees out today, right? It’s, it’s probably warmer in your, your garage and nevermind next to your nice warm car in that. Nice warm engine Bay so the critters will want to find a place to go inside there. Moth by, I’ve heard a lot of really great suggestions over the years and, and mothballs are a mothballs I, I’ve heard are, are great. And you know, when you actually break it down, I’ve heard that they’re not so great. And the reason being is that the amount of of naphthalene that you would need to be able to deter a mouse is roughly the same that you would need to determine a human or deter, deter.

33:42                     Not determined. I’m sorry. Deter a human. So it would have to be such a large amount that it would, it just would be, no, wait a minute. What do you naphthalene what do you, what kind of words he tried to throw up my listener, I can’t even spell it. Is that what’s in mothballs that makes it smell like that? Yeah. Yeah. So that’s your, that’s your, your active ingredient there. That that keeps everything in the, in the, in the mothballs naphthalene it’s called here right now. Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t know that. I thought the main ingredient was mothballs a show on Google right now. Now one you a dollar. I’m right. I mean I bet I could look it up. You know you’re right. It’s just, you say it like it’s matter of fact like you’ve, you’ve said naphthalene a lot. One of us works on cars all the time. I’m supposed to know this stuff. Hence expert on this side of the desk. I got to know these things.

34:34                     I had something living in my, it was living inside of the fan. Like it was in the, it was inside of the rotor where the inside where the fan, like the, the cabin fan. Yeah. And he had built a nest in there but I couldn’t like, he must have had a really bad last day because that thing spins. Yeah. You know when you turn the car on it spins and next thing I know my heater is like spitting out pieces of grass. It’s coming through the, the vents. And then finally I figured out what was going on. Did it, was he would want to know how was the porno idea? He, he must’ve bolted before I started it because he would have been doomed. Yeah. There’s no getting out of that. And here’s how I know that I almost took my finger off trying to fix it with it on.

35:22                     That wasn’t wise. Don’t stick. Shut the power off to stick your finger in a fan. No, I don’t want to do that. No, it wasn’t good cause I, you know, I tried to do, I tried to spin, spin the stuff out. I had the, I had the glove box open. I’m all up in there and like, Oh I can’t, I couldn’t get my big fat arm in there. So I tried to spin it out. So I’m like, okay, I’ll turn the car on, turn the fan on, it’s spinning. And I’m like, okay, now I’m gonna stick my finger in there. It’s a logical, quite a thought process. I mean, it made sense at the time. Did you pull back a stump of I pulled back a bloody finger. Oh my goodness. You know what that happened to ’em it’s pretty common. You know that you’ll get a you know, rodent or something in their room, had that happen to them from a Romeo Athletics in Enfield.

36:14                     He had like maybe two inches deep of a, of acorns all in his fan. You know, cause the fan looks like a little basket. Yeah. You know, and he had maybe a couple inches of, of acorns in there. He comes in, he said, what the heck is going on? Something’s wrong with this fan and you know, won’t get up to speed and it’s making a ton of noise. You just totally destroyed from all the the acorns and everything. You know, something was living in there, but you know, the, the mothballs, I mean you could try it if you want. Peppermint oil is a really a good deterrent. So the first thing you want to do is you want to make sure that you don’t have any holes or exposed areas where critters and things can get in. You want to try to remove them from your garage first and then from there you can begin to kind of treat the car.

36:59                     So I can tell you what I do. Everybody, you can do a quick Google search and you could find a bunch of really cool you know, tips and things like that. But for me, when I store, you know, I have a, a, a classic car that I store for the winter. What I do is I treat the inside of the garage with a like a peppermint oil, like a natural peppermint oil. The reason I use that is because we have a little dog and he goes around sniffing for everything and chewing on crumbs and dirt in the garage. She’s such a stupid little beast, you know, but he just, he’s handsome, but he just, he eats her. You’re like, what are you eating dust for? Why are you talking with the dog? He’s listening to us right now. Cause you probably just because he fell under his see your dog.

37:39                     Right. Because that dog knows now I’m going to go home and he’s going to pee in one of my shoes or something. I would, I know I would too. But he, you know, he’s a, he’s a good little dog, but you know, he’s going to try to eat any little crumbs or anything that he might find on the ground. You know, so I don’t want, I don’t want a meeting poison. Right. You know so that peppermint oil is good. I’ll set some like mouse traps around the outside of the garage on, not that we have a problem with it, but just in case, right. We don’t have a problem with, because we’re always treating for it, you know. So we’ll set two mousetraps humane ones so you can, you know, catch and release if you want to. And then from there I’ll spray that same peppermint oil right around the car and I’ll spray some kind of underneath, you know, on, on the, the body of the car underneath so that they, you know, they just, they don’t want to come near it.

38:25                     And I’ll repeat that like maybe once a month, once every week, every couple weeks or something like that, as needed. And in the car, I like to put dryer sheets in places where the critters might be able to get in and it seems to determine, plus it smells pretty nice. Wow. Yeah, they never thought about that. I have found that they are more deterred by dryer sheets than mothballs and the mothball smell mop all smell like mothballs, you know, like it’s awful. It’s a terrible, it’s like a very unique, terrible odor. I’d rather my car smell like fresh linen or lavender or something. Right. And that night, again, it smells like it was just smells like a fresh T shirt right out of the dryer. Right. It was someone got that on record you say? I just would love it if my car smelled like fresh linen.

39:06                     It’s a more pleasant, a pleasant aroma now than mothballs. Yeah. I know some people like to put steel wool in different areas too, but fresh linen or steel wool, you know, you listen while you’re listening to voice under the hood. We field all sorts of car questions. We’d talked about rodents today. Look if you have a problem with your car, it’s making a funny sound. Do you have any questions about repairs? Maybe you took your car somewhere, you feel like you weren’t treated well. You know what? If you took your car somewhere and you weren’t treated well and you want to talk about it, these send a question into us. Precision Auto Repair on Facebook or We needed a question of the week here and we need to make a donation. I’m going to yell at ’em the land cruiser. She had a question about brake rotors, machining, brake rotors and she wants to donate to Shriners hospitals for children. So James going to cut a $25 check to the Shriners boom. Done. Very well done. That’s it. Good luck with the road and senior. Carmen, you do want any ice fishing today or anything? No. Hell no. I don’t ice fish. It’s too cold. It’s too cold. Just light a fire on the ice. These two, that seems safe. I don’t know what could go wrong that I changed. Thanks for coming in, man. I thought I’ll talk to you next week.


brake pad wear indicator light

“When should I get new brakes?”

It’s safe to say that the brake system is one of the most serviced systems in your vehicle. Between regular adjustments, periodic inspections,  Brake Fluid Flushes (yes this is a real thing), and pad replacement the average driver can expect to be performing some type of maintenance or inspection on their Brakes about once per year. With that said, one of the most askbrake pad wear indicator lighted questions is “When should I get new brakes?”. The next question is “How much for new brakes?”. Today I’m going to take a few minutes to address both of those questions so that you have a better
understanding of what’s involved and why.

“How do I know if I need a brake job?”

A lot of new cars come with a Brake Pad Wear Sensor. This is a sensor that is located inside the brake pad that gets cut when the brakes wear down causing the wear light to come on. When the light comes on, you’re ready for brakes. Simple! The most common way to know you are due for a Brake Job is during periodic inspections. These inspections are performed regularly when you come in for normal Scheduled Maintenance. Aside from simply changing the oil and filter we perform a visual inspection of roughly 55 key areas on your vehicle. From here we can tell you pretty decisively what will need to be replaced and more importantly, when.

Click here for more information on Brakes and different types of Brake Systems.

“How much for a brake job?”

When the brake pads wear down most cars simply need Brake Pads (or Brake Shoes, read more about this here) and to either machine the Brake Rotors (shave them down just a little to get a nice clean and true surface for the Brake Pad to contact when stopping) or replace them. When everything is being replaced there are a few other things that go into ensuring that the brakes will function as designed for many years to come that are generally overlooked when someone replaces brakes on their own or at a place advertising  an “$89 Lifetime Brake Job”…..

The thing that’s most commonly overlooked is part quality. Yes, you can probably get brake pads for your Mercedes for $29, but when they literally fall apart or fail in a few weeks or months you’ll be replacing them again and again and again. We only use top quality parts. If I wouldn’t use it on my car I’m not putting it on your car, there’s really no other way to say it.

The second most overlooked part  to a Brake Job is actually one of the most simple pieces and we see it every single day. It’s lack of lubrication on the contact points (not to be confused with friction contact points). Friction Contact points are where the Brake Pad contacts the rotor. The brakes create friction so you don’t want any lubrication there. Contact points are anywhere that the Brake Pad touches the caliper or the bracket where the pad sits. The brake pads are constantly moving when braking, sliding back and forth (good movement). Without proper lubrication the pads will eventually stick in the bracket and when you release the brake pedal the pads stay rubbing on the rotor. This causes the brakes to wear out sooner, pulsate, or make noise. You also want to have all of the slides that go into the caliper bracket removed, cleaned, and lubricated. We do all of this during every single brake job as well as a bunch of other things so that you don’t have to worry about any issues until you need your next set in 30-40,000+ miles.

Price for brakes

A few months back a woman called for the first time. She said her regular mechanic didn’t have the “right tools” to do her front brake job (literally any basic set of tools has about everything you brake jobneed). I asked her what she was told needed to be replaced so I could properly quote the job. She told me that the brakes aren’t making noise, need to be replaced soon, and pads and rotors will suffice. She also said that her regular mechanic had been properly servicing and inspecting the vehicle regularly. I explained the importance of properly inspecting the brake system so we could be sure the price we give includes each and every single thing she will need to make sure that everything that needs to be replaced gets replaced. She insisted that she only needed “Pads and Rotors” then began to get pretty upset that I wouldn’t just give her a price. Since I didn’t know the exact brake system on the vehicle (there were 3 choices for this vehicle), I gave her a general quote of “$350-$500 if it’s just pads and rotors” then stressed the purpose of the brake inspection again. Big mistake!!

She scheduled the appointment based on the price that I gave her. When she came in the next day we saw that the brakes not only had been grinding for quite a while (months at minimum, take a look for yourself) but the calipers were also damaged beyond repair because she wore completely through the brake pads and the only thing stopping her were the caliper pistons pressing on the rotors (You can see from the pictures that they’re completely destroyed). Since there was no brake fluid in the system there was also no brake pedal, when you pushed it with your foot it just went to the floor. The car had to be stopped with the emergency brake. Her rear brakes were also grinding. In short she needed both Front Calipers, Front Brake Pads, Front Brake Rotors, Rear Brake Pads, and Rear Brake Rotors. Then the entire system needed to be purged of any air (bled). So I explained it to her and showed her. Clearly since the scope of work changed significantly, the price was going to change. More parts + more time = Brake calipermore money than we initially quoted. We would have known all of this if we inspected the brakes before quoting. Well she wasn’t happy….

This story doesn’t have a happy ending although it is slightly comical. She demanded that we fix the brake system within the quote I gave her. When I said that wasn’t possible she got very upset (this is an understatement). She ended up screaming that I must be a “Trump supporter” and accused me of trying to ruin her family’s Christmas because we wouldn’t fix her car. Then she took to social media (using our WiFi) to tell everyone how horrible we are and how our staff broke her car because it was “perfect” when she brought it in.

So this was the last time we ever gave a price for brakes without first seeing the vehicle.

I don’t know about you but if I have to pay for a brake job I don’t want to find out the hard way that the one time I need to stop quickly when going 60 mph that I should have paid an extra $40 – $50 to get my brakes done properly by someone that knows what they’re doing.

If you have a brake issue and want us to check it out for you, we would love the opportunity. Simply schedule an appointment by giving us a call 413.363.0306 or feel free to schedule online 24/7.


Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near me


You want it done right then you go to Precision. I have 4 vehicles I use for my electrical contracting company and each of them have never seen a dealer except for the day I bought them. If my vehicles are down then I can’t do my job. The people at Precision understand that. Top notch service from James and the guys over there for all of the 9 years I’ve been using their service.

Devon R.

Agawam, MA

Volvo repair differential replacement

Volvo grinding noise

Volvo Grinding Noise While DrivingVolvo repair grinding noise while driving

About a week ago we received a call from a long time customer saying that he hears a noise coming from the back  of his Volvo XC90 when driving down the road. We didn’t think much of it because wheel bearings are a common Volvo Repair and they could give him the noise that he was describing. We definitely had the wrong assumption.

When the vehicle came in the customer said that there had been a warning light lit up on his dash for about a month but since the vehicle seemed fine he didn’t bother to call for an appointment. We attempted a road test the vehicle but the noise was a loud grinding that could be felt throughout the entire vehicle as the wheels turned. One of our Master Technicians immediately pulled the vehicle into the shop rather than take the standard road test. We just didn’t want to potentially do any further damage than was already done. When we pulled the Volvo into the shop we hoisted it on the lift and saw a large amount of fluid all over the rear portion of the underside of the vehicle.

Volvo Repair

It didn’t take long to see that the rear differential (in short, a differential is the gears that turn the wheels) was literally split in half. Since there wasn’t any way to know what caused the damage Volvo repair broken differentialwithout removing and disassembling what was left of the Volvo Rear Differential and it had to be removed to be replaced, we went ahead and removed it. It was fairly involved but we got it out without much of an issue at all.

Once we got it out we took it apart for inspection to find out what had failed. There is a bearing in the rear differential called a “Pinion Bearing”. This bearing started to go bad and over time completely failed. This caused the gear that the bearing guides to move around allowing the main gear in the differential to rub on the inside of the differential housing until it eventually banged against it hard enough to break it in half.

Since the housing and gears were all completely destroyed we ended up replacing the entire differential unit. Then we performed an alignment because most of the rear suspension had to come apart to remove the old differential and to install the new one. The part was special order and took a few days to come in but the customer ultimately had their vehicle back in their possession within 2 business days.

When warning lights show up on your dash, it’s never a good idea to ignore them. This differential is equipped with a fluid pump on the differential that’s controlled by a computer that’s also mounted on the differential. The computer had shorted out internally causing the pump to malfunction. This caused a great deal of heat which ultimately caused the pinion bearing to fail.

Do you have any lights on your dash that need to be addressed? Give us a call today or schedule online 24/7.

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near me

Volvo repair differential noise


I’ve been going to James since his first shop opened over 10 years ago. I was happy to use him then and I’m happy to use him now. Always professional and honest. The pricing is also more than fair considering the service you get with anything that they do. Great spot and great people.

Matt R

Longmeadow, MA

BMW repair broken spring

BMW noise over bumps

BMW Making a Noise Over BumpsBMW noise over bumps repair

Noises are the worst. From squeaks that drive you crazy all the way through to clunks that make you question the safety of your vehicle. This week we saw a long time customer concerned about a BMW making noise over bumps. His main concern was that the vehicle just didn’t feel safe to him anymore. It’s a good thing that he brought it in… Allow me to explain a little more about this BMW Repair.

BMW Noise

The first step was to have one of our Master Technicians drive the vehicle. During a short road test it was obvious that the noise was coming from the rear of the vehicle. The next step was to physically inspect for any defects in the suspension that would cause this. We inspected the entire suspension system in the front and rear for any potential issues and eventually saw that both rear BMW springs were broken at the bottom of the coil.

This wasn’t particularly hard to figure out, especially since both springs sit in a a cup-like seat and the broken pieces were rattling around in there.

BMW repair suspension spring brokenBMW Repair

The BMW repair process was actually pretty straight forward. The vehicle is in great shape with minimal rust on any of the bolts so it was just a matter of removing some suspension components to access the springs and then install the new ones. The springs sit on little rubber cushions that insulate the spring from rubbing on anything metal that could cause a squeak. These pads are on the top and bottom of both springs. The old ones some cracks where they were showing signs of age, so we went ahead and replaced them.

When we remove suspension components, some have adjusters on them. Even tough we carefully mark everything and put everything back as we found it, sometimes the vehicle will still end up out of adjustment. That being said, if the vehicle was out of alignment just a little prior to service and we put everything back perfectly then the vehicle would still leave out of alignment. So to ensure that the vehicle drives down the road perfectly without any pulling or irregular tire wear, we performed a 4 Wheel Alignment.

Once the repair was finished we took it for another road test to verify that the noise was gone and we’re happy to say that this BMW noise over bumps is fixed.

The total repair took about half a day. All of the parts were in stock and come with our 2 year 24,000 mile nationwide warranty and 12 free months of roadside assistance at no additional charge.

Need your BMW serviced or repaired? Give us a call today or feel free to schedule online 24/7.

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near meBMW repair rear spring replacement

I’ve been coming to Precision for about 8 years now. I first found them by doing a simple search online and asking around to see if anyone else had used them. Based on overwhelming positive feedback I decided to give them a shot. I’m happy to say that after 8 years I now have all of our family cars serviced there. Not to mention most of my friends and co workers use them. They are easily The best BMW repair shop anywhere in the area. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for top quality work and service.

Tom B

Longmeadow, MA

air conditioner not working

Air conditioner not working

“Why isn’t my air conditioner working?”

air conditioner not workingWhile most of us wanted the warm weather to arrive, not everyone is happy about it. Especially if you’re one of the many that has a problem with their Air Conditioner not working in their car. This week we saw a long time customer concerned that there was No cold air coming from the vents of her Honda Civic. This Honda Repair was a pretty funny situation because naturally the customer assumed the worst but the repair was pretty simple and inexpensive.


Honda AC not working

The customer called in a bit of a panic because she had just taken her car out of storage so she could enjoy it for the summer and was planning a long road trip. The problem was that when she went to get gas before the trip she found that the air coming through her vents seemed to just trickle out and it was hot. She was incredibly worried about what the repair was going to cost because she had been reading through some online forums on the issue and was lead to believe that the Honda AC Compressor needed to be replaced. One thing I can tell you is that reading online forums about issues with your car is like going to WebMD when you have a headache. The self diagnosis will always scare you.

When she brought it in one of our Master Technicians quickly verified the concern. We also noticed a loud humming noise when the fan was turned on. The first step we decided to take was removing the blower fan that actually creates the air flow moving through the vents. This way we would be able to see if there was a restriction in the vents or a problem with the motor for the fan.

[coupon couponid=”836″ coupon_align=”cctor_aligncenter” name=”FREE AC System Efficiency Check”]

When we removed the fan we were able to quickly spot the problem. When the vehicle was left in storage some mice had found their way into her car, chewed up a blanket she had in her trunk, and made a little nest inside her dash. When she got in the car for the first time in a few months and turned on her Air Conditioner the fan spun all of the blanket pieces creating a blockage that Air conditioning repairwouldn’t allow air to pass through. So even though the fan was moving, it was completely clogged.

Honda AC Repair

Since the fan was already out in the open we just cleaned it out. There was really nothing wrong with it at all. After we cleaned it, we vacuumed out all of the vents to remove any remaining blanket pieces (and mouse “debris”). After cleaning everything out we simply put everything back together and verified that the AC is operating properly. Problem solved!

This is the time of year when we see a lot of rodent related repairs. The reason being is that when cars sit during the winter it gives the rodent a nice warm place to live.  This can happen whether you drive the vehicle daily or store it. The pests will chew insulation, wiring, interior, and anything else they can make a nest from.

Wondering “How can I keep mice out of my car?”

There are several ways to make this happen for you. While I haven’t tried all of them myself, these are the ones we know about;

  • Mothballs
    • I can say from experience that they stink up the vehicle. I’ve found the smell lingering for months while some people never notice it…
  • Traps
    • This can be messy depending on which type of trap you useHow to keep mice out of a car
  • Dryer Sheets
    • This is actually what I use. It just deters the rodents from entering rather than killing them. I blanket any large areas with them and the mice seem to hate the smell. While I happen to really enjoy the smell when I get around to taking it out of storage.
  • Steel wool
    • This method is helpful for blocking up large areas or spaces such as exhaust and air intake pipes
  • D-Con
    • We have a customer that has a large garage with 35 classic cars in it. Some of the cars are upwards of $200,000. He swears by this stuff. It’s available at most home improvement stores.

Have a problem with your AC? Don’t stress yourself out trying to research the problem on a forum. Give us a call or schedule online today. We generally pinpoint the issue in under an hour and most repairs are pretty simple allowing you to drive your vehicle home the same day.


Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near meThese guys are the best. They could have easily replaced all of the expensive stuff and I most likely would have paid. It’s tough to find good quality work these days and it’s even harder to find honesty. I keep coming back because I find both at Precision Auto. Thanks for taking care of my car once again and thanks for the advice.

Claudia C.

Westfield, MA



strut replacement west springfield ma

Noise Over Bumps

Clunking Noise Over Bumpsstrut replacement west springfield ma suspension noise over bumps

We feel that there’s nothing better than a nice smooth riding vehicle. Today we met a new customer that feels the exact same way but was going crazy because his vehicle was making a Clunking Noise Over Bumps. Rattles and clunks can almost feel like a form of torture to someone that’s sensitive to them. Not to mention that in most cases a noise can mean that there is a component in the suspension that is loose and could pose a safety concern for the driver.

Suspension Clunk

The first step in any diagnosis is verifying the problem. With this vehicle the customer was a little bit frustrated because he had been going to another local shop that replaced a few suspension parts in an attempt to remedy the issue but unfortunately never got to the root of the noise. When the vehicle came in we took a ride with the customer. The goal is to hear the same noise he is hearing so that we’re not chasing a “normal” noise or another noise he’s not concerned with.

After a short ride together is was very obvious that the noise was coming from the front suspension. Next we had one of our Technicians inspect the vehicle on a lift. We found that the suspension was tight and everything looked normal so we had to go a step further. We opted to use chassis ears on this vehicle. Chassis ears are like little microphones that Strut replacement west springfield mathe Technician can hook up to various spots in the suspension and listen to certain areas to isolate the noise while driving on the road (it sounds complicated but it’s really not).

Strut Noise

After a short road test the Technician found that the noise was coming from the front struts. The struts on this vehicle are filled with an oil that helps dampen vibration in the road. While the struts appeared to be in good shape and full of oil, they had developed a bit of play internally causing the clunk. To fix his concern we needed to replace both front struts.

Strut Replacement

We removed the old struts and replaced them with new ones including new strut mounts and strut bearings. The reason we do this is that the mounts are a solid rubber and compress over time Strut West Springfield maand the bearings take quite a bit of abuse over the years from turning and hitting large bumps. Since they have to be removed from the old strut anyways, it’s best to put new ones on the new strut to ensure the best possible end result that will last for years to come without any issues. There would be nothing worse than putting the whole job back together only to find that there is still a small noise from the mounts or bearing.

In this and every case the customer is given options. We ended up replacing everything because that’s what the customer wanted. The additional expense was only about $100 and the customer was able to take advantage of one of our Payment Plans so he could defer payment for a few months. We also backed the repair with our 2 year 24,000 mile nationwide Warranty and 12 months of roadside assistance.

The end result was a smooth running vehicle without any rattles and one very happy new customer. If you have a noise that’s bothering you it may not necessarily be a safety concern, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Noises like this can also cause some uneven tire wear that will result in a second noise. Feel free to give us a call today or schedule online. We’re happy to help.


Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MAThis noise was driving me nuts to the point of wanting to get rid of the vehicle. I was thinking there was something wrong with the frame or something major. David was great! He set me up with one of the guys over there and they had me in and out in a day. I think the price was very reasonable and frankly the car has never driven better. I’m happy I gave them a shot and will be back for all services whether minor or major.

Matthew A

West Springfield, MA

Porsche repair technician

Porsche Vibration Repair

Porsche Vibration Repair

In my opinion, Porsche makes one of the nicest vehicles on the road today. But there’s nothing worse than driving one that has squeaks, noises, and vibrations. We saw one today where the customer was concerned about an aggressive vibration when accelerating. While there are many things that can cause this issue, this one was pretty simple to identify. Today I’ll tell you about this Porsche Vibration Repair, what happened, how it happened, and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

Porsche repair driveshaft replacement
You can see from this picture that the housing for the bearing support is just hanging on the shaft. It’s not connected to anything.

Porsche Vibration while accelerating

This customer’s concern was a vibration while accelerating. The back story is that he called a few other shops and went to one that wanted him to replace the front brake calipers (spoiler alert, the brakes and calipers are perfect). The first step for any customer concern is to first verify it. This is done with a simple road test by one of our Master Technicians. In this case when accelerating normally the vibration was so violent that it felt like someone was under the vehicle hitting the bottom of the driver’s seat with a hammer. The next step was to put the vehicle up in the air to take a look and inspect for the exact cause of the vibration.

The Technician checked all of the tires, brakes, suspension, and drive line. While most everything was in great shape it was obvious that there was a problem with the drive shaft. A drive shaft is a rotating shaft that transmits torque in an engine. More simply put, when you step on the gas pedal the engine turns, the engine turns the transmission, the transmission turns the drive shaft, the drive shaft turns the gears that make the vehicle move forward or backwards.

On this Porsche Cayenne the drive shaft is pretty long so in the center of it there needs to be a support to hold it tight while rotating so there is no vibration. This support is called a “Carrier Bearing”. The carrier bearing just sits in the center of the shaft and the shaft rotates through the center of it.  There were a few problems here.

First, the customer recently purchased the vehicle second hand. The drive shaft in the vehicle was replaced somewhat recently with a used part from a junk yard. This was obvious due to faulty installation, missing bolts, and yellow writing all over the shaft indicating a stock number from a junk yard. The second issue was that the bearing wasn’t just faulty, it was completely destroyed. It literally wasn’t connected at all. So when the drive shaft would spin to turn the wheels, it would vibrate and essentially hit the floor of the vehicle causing the aggressive vibration felt while driving.

Porsche repair technicianPorsche Repair in West Springfield, MA

The repair was actually pretty simple. Since the carrier bearing is part of the drive shaft and has to be purchased as one unit, we simply removed the old shaft and installed a new one. While putting the new one back up, we installed any and all missing hardware to ensure this one lasts. The total repair took a little over an hour and the customer had the vehicle back the following day because we had to order the part.

After the repair we took a second road test with the vehicle to be sure that the vibration was gone. We’re happy to say that this Porsche Cayenne Repair fixed the issue and the vehicle is back to

rolling down the road as smooth as silk.

How can you prevent this from happening to you?

The reality is that if you drive a vehicle, things wear and eventually break. If a vehicle sits and doesn’t get driven, things break down and need replacement. In this case the bearing was pretty bad. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) this bearing was about a 12. There was nothing left to it. Which leads us to believe that there was a significant noise and smaller vibration for a while before the bearing came completely apart.

The first step towards preventing this level of failure would have been to have the vehicle properly inspected by us prior to purchase. Whenever buying any used vehicle you always want to have a trained and impartial set of eyes check it over for you to spot any apparent problems or anything on the horizon (like a faulty drive shaft….). Our Technicians see Porsche Repairs all the time so it’s  very easy for us to spot common problems before they fail.

Porsche repair carrier bearing replacement
This is how the bearing should look without the bracket in place.

The next option is to have your vehicle serviced regularly. I say it all the time, “Scheduled maintenance is the key to avoiding costly and unexpected break downs.” By following the service schedule for your vehicle we would see your vehicle roughly every 3-5,000 miles. During each of those visits the vehicle gets a full 55 point inspection for FREE. This inspection is specifically designed by our staff to spot safety and mechanical issues before they cause major issues or put you in harm’s way. If we had seen this vehicle, we most definitely would have seen this so that the customer would have time to prepare and budget for the repair.

In this case since it was unexpected and the part was pricey, he took advantage of one of our Payment Plans. Approval took about 10-15 minutes and he had the funds available the same day. His repair is also backed by our 2 year, 24,000 mile Nationwide Warranty and 12 months of Roadside Assistance at no additional cost. This customer can rest easy knowing that he received a quality Porsche Repair and peace of mind at a fair price that he can pay for over time.

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MAI’m new to Porsche ownership. I always wanted one and finally had a chance to get my dream Porsche Cayenne. When I had this issue I just din’t know where to turn. Some co workers recommended James so I gave him a shot. I was not even slightly disappointed. They got my baby in right away and had the issue pin pointed in a few minutes. The pricing was very fair and the financing was a breeze. I got 0% for 6 months, my car back the next day, and they even washed it for me. I’ll most definitely be returning for future service here. Great job James and staff. My family and I are very appreciative.

Adam R.

Suffield, CT

Worn Brake pads

Where can I get my brakes replaced ?

Where can I get my brakes replaced?

Are you hearing a grinding or squealing noise when braking and wondering “Where can I get my brakes replaced?” We’ve got you covered. Other than Oil Changes, Brake pad replacement is one of the most common services we perform here on a daily basis. The reason being is that much like how your engine oil is breaking down whenever your vehicle is running, your brake pads wear whenever you step on the brake pedal to slow your car down. Today we’re going to give you some insight into how to know when you need to have your brakes replaced and what goes into our Brake Job to make it last longer without incident.

Brake Pad Warning Light

One of the biggest questions that customers have about their brake system is “How do I know when my vehicle needs new brake pads?” The simple answer here is, by having us perform your Brake pad warning lightscheduled maintenance….. All of our Factory Scheduled Maintenance Services come with a complimentary 55 Point Vehicle Inspection. This Inspection includes a visual inspection of the brake system. So when you use us regularly for auto service we will have a better handle on your driving habits so that we can predict when you will need brakes.

The other way is by watching the brake pad warning light. Most newer vehicles will come with this option but it is important to understand that not all vehicles have this option. If you’re unclear if your vehicle has this option or not you may want to consult your owners manual or simply give us a call, we can walk you through how to figure it out. The brake Pad Warning Light is a very simple system. The sensor that reads the brake pad depth is a long wire that creates a loop. When the brake pads wear down, the wire wears until it’s cut, turning on the light. When that light comes on, it’s very important to have your brakes checked in the immediate future.

The next way is by watching your brake light. This is a red light that says “Brake” or “Brakes” This light comes on only for a few reasons. It should always come on when the emergency brake is pressed (or pulled, depending on the vehicle). The next is when the brake fluid is low. Brake fluid is a sealed system, so when the brake pads wear the fluid in the reservoir gets lower. When it gets to the minimum level the light will come on and stay on until the issue is resolved. The other reasons the “Brake Light” will come on are due to a fluid leak or a faulty circuit. In any event, if your brake light comes on and stays on, you will want to have your brake system checked immediately to avoid any safety issues and further repairs caused by putting off the initial repair.

Brake Pad Replacement

Worn Brake pads
From left to right; worn brake pad, new brake pad

When a customer ultimately comes in to have their brake system checked a a few things happen to ensure that we’re replacing what needs to be replaced to be certain that the vehicle is safe and the customer is happy. The process always starts with one of our Technicians performing a road test of the vehicle. This will give us a feel for the vehicle’s brake system. We’re looking to see that the brakes function somewhat normal without a low brake pedal, excessive noise, pulsation, pulling to one side or another, or any of the other many issues that can happen. Next we remove the wheels to inspect the Brake System.

The first area that’s checked is the brake pads and calipers. We’re checking for even pad wear and pad depth remaining. Next we check the brake caliper slides, brake caliper pistons, all of the brake lines and brake hoses, the master cylinder, brake fluid level and condition, brake rotors (and drums if equipped), and the emergency brake system. Then we always follow up the Brake Inspection with our complimentary 55 Point Inspection. It is essential that this inspection is performed correctly to ensure that we don’t miss anything. An example of an improper inspection would be just looking at the brake pads and saying “Your car needs brakes….”, meanwhile you have a loose ball joint that is causing your vehicle to be unsafe. While our way takes a little longer (literally 20-30 minutes), we want to ensure that we know everything about your brake system and the safety of your vehicle so that you know everything bad and good about it. We want you safe and we want you to make a well informed decision. You can’t achieve either of those if we just give a quote without seeing the vehicle or by performing an improper inspection.

Brake Job

In most cases there is really nothing out of the ordinary. About 80% of the Brake Jobs we perform just needs brake pads, brake rotors, or to have the brake rotors machined. The brake rotor is

Brake rotor replacement
From left to right; old rotor, new rotor

something commonly overlooked. It is the metal disc that takes all of the pressure when braking and takes most of the punishment from the heat from braking. It’s important to have these machined if possible or simply replaced when replacing brake pads. This will not only help to ensure that you get the best performance from your new brakes, but it will also help them last a long time without any problems.

You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between machining and replacing a brake rotor. “Machining” is a process where the brake rotor is placed on a brake lathe and the braking surface is shaved down slightly to create a new and clean surface. Not all rotors can be machined though. You see, some rotors come with a “Machine to spec” or “Minimum thickness”. This is a spec that tells us exactly how much we can shave off the surface of the rotor to make that a new and clean surface. Sometimes rust and rot or even a pulsation (warped rotor) will require more machining than is allowed by the minimum thickness. Machining past this point will leave you unsafe and it’s not a good idea.

When the brake pads and rotors are replaced it is essential to lubricate all of the contact points. We see cars come in weekly with newer brakes that are wearing unevenly due to improper installation. Brake pads need to move freely back and forth when pressed. If they don’t, you will find yourself replacing your brakes much sooner than expected. We also coat the back side of the brake pad with a special coating that is meant to eliminate the chance of any noise.

Only top quality products

I said it before and I’ll say it again, we just want to give you the best product possible so that you’re safe and happy. The last way we ensure this is by using ONLY top quality parts. We use only factory parts or better. These products are proven to stand the test of time and any abuse you can throw at them. After we replace your brakes, you’re not going to have to worry if you need to stop quickly. You’ll get a fair price, speedy service, great customer service, and peace of mind that’s backed by our Nationwide Warranty.


Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MASo I found Precision when passing through town on business. I figured I would try them out because my brake light came on when passing Enfield. I met James and his staff and everyone was nice. They got my car right in and inspected the brakes. I simply needed rear brake pads and rotors. When they gave me the price I figured I would shop around. I googled “cheapest place for brakes” and some chain popped up. They gave me a price over the phone that was $20 cheaper than Precision. So regrettably I went to the other shop. Worst decision ever! The other shop didn’t look as nice, the people were rude, and the guy that got in my car was filthy (1 point Precision/ Chain 0). I wait in their lobby for 3.5 hours until my car is ready which only gave me more time to research the horrific reviews about the chain and the amazing ones about Precision (Precision promised it in 1 hour, Precision 2/ chain 0). So now I pay for the repair and should be on my way but my brake light is on and the brake pedal goes to the floor. The Chain told me that there was nothing they could do and that the car was like that before. Not to mention they were closing and I would now have to stay in a hotel (Precision 3/ Chain 0). I called James and thought I would have to beg for his help. He was pretty understanding and got my car right back in shortly after closing. The problem they found is that I drive a 2008 Audi A6. The rear brake calipers require special tools and software to push them back to allow room for the installation of the new brake pads. What the Chain did was remove the calipers and crush them in a vise. This caused the insides to break and leaks that made my brake pedal low. So in short, by trying to save $20 being cheap I cost myself 2 new electronic calipers and a stay overnight in a hotel waiting for the parts to come in. The guys at precision are competent, polite, and very accommodating. To date I’ve been using their service for 5 years. I find their pricing reasonable and even very inexpensive when considering the level of service they provide. I have since relocated to the area and James and his staff currently service my entire fleet of vehicles as well as friends and family vehicles. They always go above and beyond and I couldn’t be happier with them. To anyone reading this, you need to do yourself a favor and go to precision. They’re professional, honest, and passionate about what they do.

Matthew W.

Longmeadow, MA

Volkswagen turbo burning oil

Volkswagen No Start

Volkswagen No Start

Preventive maintenance really is the key to ensuring that any vehicle owner can minimize the the chance of costly and unexpected break downs throughout the life of their vehicle. Most Volkswagen owners think that their regular Volkswagen Service is just an oil change once or twice every year but it’s actually much more than that (read more about this here). This Volkswagen No Start could have been avoided if the vehicle was serviced following the Manufacturers Scheduled Maintenance Schedule. Allow me to explain;

Volkswagen Won’t Start

We received a call from a customer a few weeks back. She said that she had just bought a car and it needed an

Volkswagen oil pump
This shows the oil pump assembly inside the oil pan. You can see that one of the gears is missing and the chain that drives is has snapped and hanging down

engine. She was having trouble finding anyone to work on a Volkswagen Diesel Engine (small hint, this was not even a Diesel engine, it was just really noisy). The vehicle came in on a tow truck and we quickly found that the engine had seized up. The next step was to check the oil level which was a little low but only about 1 quart which isn’t all that bad. We then removed the oil pan to inspect the engine internals. What we found was shocking to say the least.

The engine had run low on oil at some point causing a large amount of friction and heat in the lower end of the engine. This friction (cause of the heat) made the oil pump drive (fancy name for the oil pump) get so hot that it seized up and broke the chain that makes it pump oil while also breaking off the main gear that allows it to turn. The oil pan had various parts from the inside of the engine and chunks of metal in it.

Why did this happen?

For an engine to run low on oil one of a few things has to happen. The oil is never changed and the vehicle just burns it slowly over time, there is an external leak, there is an internal leak (burning oil or leaking into the coolant), or oil is never put back in after service. After a brief

Volkswagen engine repair
The debris and gear in the oil pan are a result of the engine failure. The oil pan shouldn’t have anything in it except for oil

inspection the Technician found that the turbo had been malfunctioning for quite a while. This caused a loud noise that caused the customer to think her car was a Volkswagen Diesel (she was also told it was a Diesel by the used car dealer that sold her the car a few months prior). What was happening here was the turbo started to come apart internally. Little by little this got worse causing the oil that is fed into it to keep it lubricated to simply pass through it and find it’s way out the exhaust.

Wondering how following the Volkswagen Service Schedule could have helped? That’s also a very simple answer. At specified mileages Volkswagen will detail exactly what they want checked. This customer happened to be roughly 4,000 miles past the Volkswagen Service that required the turbo to be inspected. The other way this could have been prevented is with a Pre Purchase Inspection.

Just to be clear, absolutely none of this is the customer’s fault. She bought a car that had problems and trusted the company that sold her the car to check it over and give her an honest assessment. That was never done. The engine was so loud when she bought the car that the dealer told her it was a Diesel Engine and “They’re all noisy”. She was also told that the vehicle was up to date on all of it’s services which clearly was not the case.

Volkswagen Engine Replacement

Fortunately for this customer she had a warranty that she purchased with the car. The warranty company was willing to cover the majority of the engine replacement cost for her. So we replaced the engine and turbo. The repair itself

Volkswagen oil pump
This screen blocks any debris from going into the oil pump and getting sucked back up into circulation. There is a large piece of metal stuck in there

only took about 2 days but the process to get approval through the warranty company lasted about a week and since the warranty the customer purchased says that the warranty company will provide parts over $xx.xx, we had to wait about another week for them to ship us the engine.

The entire process took a lot longer than we would have liked, but unfortunately there are some aspects of some jobs we simply can not control.

How can you avoid this from happening to you?

  1. When buying any used vehicle you’re going to want to get a Pre Purchase Vehicle Inspection from a licensed repair facility other than the one you’re buying the vehicle from. It’s also important that when you choose a shop you verify that they have experience working on the car you’re buying.
  2. Ask for service records when buying a new car. Sometimes the deal that’s too good to be true is exactly that.
  3. Trust your instincts. This woman was told that her car was a Diesel but she was required to use gasoline in it…. For me, that’s a bit of a red flag.
  4. Read your aftermarket warranty in full before buying it from the selling dealer. Some of these contracts are awesome and some are terrible. This customer had absolutely no idea how long the warranty company could
    Volkswagen turbo burning oil
    The light brown-ish white color is a sign that oil is passing into the turbo. The failed portion is the part that looks like a little fan

    delay her repair. She also didn’t know that she had to pay for diagnosis or that the warranty company could dictate what parts had to go in her car even if it’s not in her best interest…. Her understanding was that she could bring her car anywhere and the the bill was completely covered, this was not the case. Most (not all) warranty companies will make the customer pay to disassemble an engine until the “point of failure can be established”. In some cases this requires the engine to be completely torn apart, at the customer’s expense.

  5. Make sure that your vehicle is serviced using the K Service Schedule in your owner’s manual. These Services are designed to help you get the most out of your vehicle. It’s much cheaper to pay for preventive service today than it is to pay for repairs like this later.

Also, if you’re buying a car and you have some questions. Give us a call. One of our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have.


Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA

I feel very silly about this. I can’t believe I took everything the salesman said at face value. I half expected you guys to make fun of me because of my naivety. But you all remained very professional and really helped me understand the process as well as what I need to do for my car in the future. While I hope this never happens again I’m happy to know that I have your shop to help me through it. I’m still embarrassed though =)

(Customer requested to stay anonymous)

Springfield, MA

Brake Job

Dodge Brake Job

Dodge Brake Job

While there are a lot of things we put into every job to make sure the customer is happy. Safety is what tDodge Brake Jobops the list of importance for us. Not just for the customer but for their families, friends, pedestrians, and other motorists. If your vehicle is unsafe you are literally a rolling liability to anyone and everyone you pass. We don’t take that lightly. Today we saw a new customer come in that had failed Mass State Inspection for a faulty Emergency Brake. He decided to perform this Dodge Brake Job on his own and failed….

Brakes are one of the more simple maintenance items we perform here daily. As you step on the brakes, the brake pads wear out. So it’s not uncommon to see a need for brakes. But replacing them isn’t as simple as just putting new pads in. There’s quite a bit that goes into it because you don’t just want the brakes to work and be safe. You want them to last and function properly for years to come without noise or any other issues. That all starts with having a properly Trained Technician installing top quality parts, the right way….

This customer felt that they would save a few bucks and replace their faulty Emergency Brake Shoes on their own. The problem they ran into was pretty obvious. Take a look;


Cracked Rim
As you can see there is a crack where the caliper finally wedged itself into the rim causing it to lock up

Not only did the brake caliper and bracket grind into the rim, but it wedged itself into the rim causing a crack. When it did this the vehicle skidded to a stop because the wheel was locked up. VERY DANGEROUS!!!!! He probably saved about $100 or so doing it himself, which is cool….. But he could have crashed or worse, he also needs a rim for $600-700, and he had to get the car towed for probably another $100. So how much did he really save?

We completely understand that price is important. But do you really want to find out that you probably should have had your Brake Job performed by a Professional Technician now by reading this or find out at 70 mph while uncontrollably skidding to a stop on the highway in the middle of the night like this guy did?

Need brakes? Give us a call at 413.363.0306 today or Schedule Online today.

There’s no added cost to having it done correctly, just added value.