Most of us will have at least one car in our household so it’s an expense that is just never going to go away. From car insurance to servicing, maintenance, fuel and loan repayments if the car is on finance, cars are not cheap to run.
So this month we’ve interviewed Luke Adams from Auto Smart Mechanical.
Luke gives us a bit of background into what he does at Auto Smart Mechanical and share some top tips on how you can save money on your car.
How long have you been in the motor industry?
I started my apprenticeship 16 years ago.
What made you want to work in the industry?
From the age of 3 I was riding motorbikes on our property. At 10 I was given my first car, a 1967 Suzuki LJ50 4×4. None of the cars or motorbikes were in the best condition so needed a lot of work to keep them all going. I guess that’s what started my passion for fixing things. When I wanted to use them I had to get them started.
What are the most important things people need to know about car maintenance?
People take for granted how much they rely on their cars every day. Modern cars are so far advanced from the cars 15 years ago. Skipping your service can have major consequences later on down the track.
What should people be looking at when they buy a new or second hand car in terms of how much it may cost them in future maintenance and repairs?
When buying a used vehicle make sure you have proof of maintenance, by looking at the service logbook or even calling the workshop that has been carrying out the work. Usually they are more than happy to give you the service records.
A lot of vehicles have a timing belt and in most cases this is a part that needs to be replaced every 100,000kms. The consequences of it failing can be catastrophic engine damage costing anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 to repair.
For used cars I would highly recommend getting it inspected by a qualified mechanic.
For new cars the compare things like length of warranty. They can range for 2 years to 7 years in Australia depending on the manufacturer.
Look at service intervals. Are the 6 monthly or yearly?
What are your top 5 tips for keeping car service costs down?
- Tyre pressure
Checking your car’s tyre pressure is important for many reasons. Under inflated tyres will have an adverse effect on fuel consumption and handling while over inflated tyres will not allow the car to have the grip needed in emergency manoeuvres.
Most manufacturers list the recommended pressures on a sticker inside one of the doors or behind the fuel cap door. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre and for emergency breakdown tools.
- Engine and transmission oil level
To check engine oil levels, run the engine for 10 to 15 seconds to make sure the engine is well lubricated. Stop the engine, pull the engine oil dipstick and clean it with a rag; insert it back completely to take a reading, then pull it out to take a look at your levels. The level should be at or very close to the “full” mark.
- Make sure you are using the minimum specified fuel for your vehicle
Many newer vehicles are tuned to run 95 RON fuel as a minimum. Your vehicle will not run at its optimum running a lower octane fuel. This can cause damage to the engine and fuel system.
Running a lower than specified fuel can also make your fuel economy worse. So the money you are saving on the price of the fuel will get you fewer kilometres per tank. You can find the specified fuel rating of your vehicle in the owner’s manual.
- Unusual things
If you notice anything different about your vehicle such as strange noises, smells or even a warning light on the dash, get them check out by a qualified mechanic. Getting onto anything like early this will always save you money in the long run.
If these issues aren’t looked at early they can cause severe damage to other components.
- Independent Mechanics
Find a good, independent, trusted mechanic and stick with them. They may not have the fanciest reception and waiting room compared with the dealers, but you are paying for that “free coffee” etc. in the price of the service.
What’s the best way to find a trustworthy mechanic?
By far the best way to find a good trusted mechanic is by a trusted referral from someone you know.
What kind of services do you offer?
We offer logbook servicing to keep your manufacturer’s warranty intact, general maintenance and mechanical repairs. We also carry out electrical diagnostics and repairs, as well as ECU remapping.
What is ECU Remapping?
All modern vehicles contain an ECU (or Engine Control Unit) that is effectively a small computer which controls how the engine works. Vehicle manufacturers de-tune the engine by setting the software on the ECU to default before sending the vehicle out.
This is done due to the manufacturers having to sell their cars all over the world; this means that the software settings on the ECU must take into account different climates, laws & restrictions and varying quality of fuels. Vehicle remapping is basically the modification/replacement of the manufactures default software on a vehicles ECU.
How Does ECU Remapping Work?
A vehicle remap replaces default software on the ECU, overwriting it with new software which can be programmed to optimise the cars overall performance. This is known as vehicle remapping because the ECU is essentially a program that controls how the engine works. When your car is remapped, the tuned software is plugged into your cars serial port (or OBD port) which then overwrites the engine map with the new version to enhance engine performance and in many cases improve fuel economy.
How do you build ongoing relationships with your clients?
Our values of listening and understanding exactly what our clients’ needs are starts the relationship and we follow through on promises and time frames.
We engage with our customers via social media, sharing blogs like this to help them understand their vehicle needs.
We also have an automated service reminder system that emails the clients to notify them of their next service.
Do you belong to any associations or industry bodies?
We are licensed vehicle repairers. MRB: 5936 and MR: 7241.
We are also members of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association and the Motor Trades Association.