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Maintenance Mistakes that Can Shorten Your Car’s Lifespan

broken carA car, like most of the things in our possession, will live longer and operate better if properly maintained. And new cars need maintenance just as much as the older vehicles – that’s how you keep them running like new longer!

At Ormsby Auto, we have repaired numerous cars with problems that could have been prevented by maintenance.

Here are a few examples of how timely maintenance could have prevented the damage:

-   Permanently worn tires due to the skipped tire rotation

-    Worn out engine due to the skipped oil changes or reused oil filter

-    Premature tire failure due to the skewed inflation balance

-    Fuel pump failure caused by overused fuel filters

To help you take care of your car, we’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes car owners make when it comes to vehicle maintenance.

Neglect

Whether you do it consciously or unconsciously, neglecting the maintenance is the first step to expensive car repairs in the future. If you bought a new vehicle, you have an opportunity to start off the ownership on the right foot. Read the owner’s manual and mark all the maintenance steps, such as oil changes, tire inspection and rotation, car fluids check, etc., on your calendar. Some of them depend on the miles driven rather than the age of your vehicle, so a mobile app with reminders might be better for this purpose. Here is a selection of car maintenance apps for your device.

If you own a used vehicle, it’s never too late to start keeping up with maintenance, even if the previous owner neglected it. Some other things you should keep in mind in regards to maintenance:

-    Never ignore “check engine” light and other warning signals that light up on your dashboard. Driving with these lights on can cause irreparable damage to your car.

-    Don’t just focus on one thing. Yes, oil changes are important, but so is timely windshield wiper replacement and tire inflation.

No financial backup

Remember this: maintenance is not free. Your expenses may range for a few dollars for a new air filter to a few hundred for a set of new tires. And if you’ve been ignoring maintenance, expect to pay even more for repairs. It’s a good idea to put away money for expected maintenance costs, as well as for emergency repairs. If you continue driving a car that exhibits signs of trouble, expect to pay even more at the end – we’ve seen this happen a lot at our Rockville auto repair shop.

Inexperienced DIY

With the right knowledge and equipment, some of the simple car maintenance, such as oil change, wiper replacement and even tire replacement, can be performed in your own garage. However, more often than not, you should take your car to a shop to get it serviced by professionals. Your attempt to save money by doing DIY maintenance may lead to even higher repair bill at the end. Modern cars are extremely complex and it’s easy to do something wrong, for example:

-    Using wrong, uncalibrated tools to disassemble the parts

-    Using replacements parts that are not OME or are not for your specific car model

-    Performing unnecessary actions

As you can see, a car owner can often become his own enemy by skipping maintenance altogether or resorting to DIY measures. Our Rockville auto repair shop is open for anyone who needs help maintaining their vehicles or repairing the damage. From talking to our customers, we’ve found out that the lack of finances and a busy schedule are the two most common reasons why people ignore car maintenance. At Ormsby Auto, we encourage you to find the time and start saving up money to prolong your vehicle’s lifespan.

4 Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Car

car washThe spring is quite chilly this year in Maryland, but hopefully it will get warmer soon – warm enough for you to get dressed in shorts and t-shirt and give your car a thorough spring cleaning. If it’s not on your to-do list, make sure you add it, because at Ormsby Auto we know that cleaning your car won’t just make it look nicer, but may also help increase fuel efficiency and overall performance.

1)  Start by removing everything that doesn’t belong in the car

This includes obvious trash, items of clothing, books, beach chairs that have been sitting in your trunk since the last trip – well, you get the idea.  If it’s in your car and you haven’t used it during the past week, it has to go.

Depending on how much extra stuff you have lying around in your vehicle, it could be weighing your car down enough to make it use more fuel, and that’s exactly what we are trying to avoid. Once all the big items are gone, search every compartment and crevice for small items, such as coins, wires, headphones, pens, etc. that got lost in the abyss.

Things that you plan on keeping in your car (GPS, ownership documents, mp3 players, CDs, glasses, and so on) should be temporarily taken out, so that they don’t get in the way of the cleanup that follows.

To go an extra mile – organize your trunk. Put loose items, such as ice scrapers, jumper cables and motor oil containers in a small box, so that they stop rolling around.

2)  Remove the dust

Once the interior is free of any kind of debris, you can start wiping the dust off of the surfaces and vacuuming floors and upholstery. Remove your floor mats and give them a thorough washing or vacuuming, depending on the material.

To go an extra mile – remove stains from the seats and floor mats with the help of water, brush, stain remover and wet vacuum. You can also polish the dashboard to restore its shine.

3)  Clean the windows

Use your favorite glass cleaner to clean your car’s mirrors and windows from both sides. Inspect glass surfaces to determine any chips, cracks or scratches. Don’t worry, you don’t have to replace the entire windshield – a spot repair should work, just call your local Rockville auto repair specialists to schedule an appointment.

To go an extra mile – replace your windshield wipers if you haven’t done this in a long time, and especially if you notice that they scratch your windshield.

4)  Wash the outside of the car

You can certainly opt to take your car to a car wash, but a bucket of soapy water, a soft sponge and some elbow grease can work just as good. Don’t forget the wheels – power-wash them to remove dirt and salt hiding in the wheel wells and other crevices.

To go an extra mile – touch up any chips and scratches you notice while washing and give your car a thorough waxing to restore the shine and protect from the hot summer sun.

A car spring cleaning is a great opportunity to inspect your car inside and out and take a note of what needs repair or replacement. If you find any of these signs of trouble, feel free to stop by our Rockville auto repair shop and we’ll fix them in no time.

    • Rust on the body and underbody of the car
    • Cracked or moldy weather stripping
    • Signs of corrosion under the hood
    • Visible tire damage

Feel free to bring your car to our service station for a seasonal tune-up and preventive maintenance. We will inspect all systems, test AC to make sure it’s ready for the summer, check components for damage and proper alignment, and advice you how to keep your car in a top shape. You’ll be amazed what a few turns of a screw driver can do to your vehicle’s performance.

Most Common Reasons Vehicles Fail Maryland State Inspection

cats in the car

We can haz approve the interior!

As we covered in our previous post about the process of the Maryland state inspection, Maryland residents don’t have to have their vehicles inspected annually. However, when you do need inspection, we are sure you’d like to pass it the first time.

At Ormsby Auto, we inspect hundreds of vehicles every year. Our mechanics know the state regulations pertaining to vehicle safety and they will never fail (or approve) your car without substantial evidence. If the inspection is due, we recommend taking your vehicle to your mechanic and having him do a thorough exam of all vital car components. Particularly have him focus on the following areas, as these are few of the most common reasons why many cars fail Maryland state inspection, from our experience.

Brakes

Unlike your car’s body, auto glass, interior and lights, the condition of your brakes can’t be visually confirmed without partial disassembly. And if you haven’t been diligent with the car maintenance, have driven with your emergency brake on, or purchased a used car with unknown history, it’s a good idea to check the brakes and replace them if necessary before they fail inspection.

Tires

The minimal tire tread depth that will let you pass the inspection is 2/32 of an inch. You’ve probably heard about the test with a penny. Stick a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s figure upside down and facing you. If at least half of his head is covered, you are good to go. You can also repeat this experiment with a quarter, and if a part of Washington’s head is covered, you are even in a better place with 4/32 of an inch tread depth.

Windows

It’s not uncommon among car owners to drive with illegal tint between the inspections and then remove the tint to pass. If you are one of them, you probably already know what to do. However, many drivers don’t realize that most vehicles come with pre-tinted windows. According to the Maryland laws, tinted auto glass must let through at least 35% of light, which means that applying tint that meets this requirement on a pre-tinted window will make the tint too dark to pass the inspection.

Engine

If your “check engine” light is on, don’t even bother sending your car for an inspection, because it will inevitably fail.  “Check engine” light may indicate a wide variety of problems from electrical issues to an unfit gas cap and even a failing engine.

Lights

This includes dashboard indicator lights, headlights, turn signals and tail lights. All of them need to meet state and federal regulations, be fully functional and adjusted to the correct brightness. Some after-market Halogen and Xenon-based lights, such as bluish high-intensity discharge (HID) lights might not be legal in some states, especially if they are not utilizing vehicle’s existing light source. Call Ormsby Auto, Maryland Safety Inspection Station #8047-A, and we’ll let you know if your modified headlights will pass the inspection.

Rust and body rot

This mainly concerns older cars with extensive rust issues and body rot. While you can cosmetically mask the rust, you can’t do much about the body rot except for replacing the rotted piece of auto body, which is often rather expensive.

If your local Maryland Safety Inspection station fails your vehicle for the reasons you disagree with, feel free to come to Ormsby Auto for the second opinion. We won’t fail your car just to make you pay for unnecessary repairs; however, there are some dishonest mechanics who will.

Everything You Need to Know About Maryland Vehicle Safety Inspection

vehicle speed meterWhen do you need to get your vehicle inspected?

In Maryland, unlike in many other states, you don’t need to have your vehicle inspected on a regular basis. According to the Maryland law, you only need to have your car inspected in two situations:

 

(1)    Your vehicle is registered in another state and you have just moved to Maryland. In this case, you have 60 days to register your vehicle in Maryland, and to do that your car must pass Maryland state inspection.

(2)    You are a resident of Maryland and you have become an owner of a used vehicle (you purchased, inherited it or it was a gift). You will need a Maryland Safety Inspection certificate dated no more than 90 days prior to the registration date. This means even if the car you bought has already been inspected this year, you will still need to go through the inspection process again, because the certificate is only valid for 90 days.

Note: if you have purchased your new car from an out-of-state dealership, you don’t need to obtain the inspection certificate. Only used vehicles are required to be inspected.

Where can you get your vehicle inspected in Maryland?

MVA will only accept certificates from authorized safety inspection stations located in Maryland. Ormsby Auto is a station #8047-A and we have several Master Technicians certified by the State of Maryland who can perform safety inspections. A typical inspection usually takes between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours depending on the type of the vehicle.

What does Maryland Safety Inspection cover?

Depending on the type and capacity of the vehicle, different items may be inspected. Generally, the safety inspection covers breaks, steering, lights, exhaust, safety belts and other crucial components of the vehicle. You can refer to the MVA website for the complete list.

Among other things, State of Maryland has certain regulations when it comes to tinted windows. If your car has tinted windows, here’s what you need to know:

-    Prior to 2012 you had to have Maryland State Police Officer from ASED division measure and sign off on your window tint. Now you can have it done at any Maryland State Inspection facility.

-    All windows on a standard sedan vehicle have to let through at least 35% of light.

-    Red, yellow, amber and reflective tint is prohibited by law.

-    Only top 5 inches of a windshield can be tinted.

-    On SUVs, trucks and limousines only the front windshield and two front passenger windows have to meet the 35% requirement; back windows can be as dark as you wish.

-    If less that 35% of light is coming through, the vehicle fails inspection and the tint must be removed.

-    All non-factory custom tint has to be measured and stations may request a separate fee for this procedure.

-    If you plan on removing the tint anyway, remove it prior to an inspection to avoid being charged for tint measurement.

What happens if you don’t pass the inspection?

If everything checks out, the safety inspection station will issue an inspection certificate that you can take to your local MVA office to apply for title and registration. If your car fails the inspection, you will be given a reason why and a recommendation from your mechanic. You have an option to have the necessary repairs performed at the inspection station or you could take your car to your preferred auto service shop.

A few things to keep in mind:

-    You will have 30 days or 1000 miles (whichever occurs first) from the initial inspection to complete the repairs, bring the car for re-inspection and be issued a certificate of compliance. If you wait longer, you will have to start all over.

-    If the repair can be visually confirmed (e.g. new light or a replaced windshield wiper) during the re-inspection, you shouldn’t be charged additional fee for it.

-    If the re-inspection requires lifting the vehicle or removing components, you may be charged for re-inspection, depending on the station’s policies.

We hope we made the procedure of inspecting your car in MD a bit clearer. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll explain all ins and outs in more detail.