Tips for Choosing the Right Car Repair Shop

Automobile issues are inevitable, but mechanic issues aren't. Read on to learn several tips to help you choose the right car repair shop.

Recent studies suggest Americans keep their cars longer as the average age of light-duty vehicles on the road now exceeds 11.5 years. An aging auto fleet means what's on the road will need more repairs.

To keep your car on the road, you need to find car repair you can trust. You rely on your vehicle for so much, and honest car mechanics feel hard to come by. That doesn't mean they don't exist.

Ask for Recommendations

Are you in need of a new auto repair shop? Check out this guide for how to pick the right one.

Your friends and family are a fantastic resource for finding reliable car maintenance. According to a AAA poll, most Americans don't trust auto mechanics. Most folks don't have mechanical knowledge, and unscrupulous repair shops know this.

Because there is a knowledge gap, far too many technicians play fast and loose with parts and labor costs.

Finding a solid mechanic is as easy as asking someone you do trust. Your friends and family with automobiles all patronize car shops, so they'll steer you toward someone they trust. If they don't have a recommendation, they more than likely have a horror story and can tell you who might be a scam artist.

Shop Around

Don't be afraid to seek second opinions. Of course, this is hard to do if your car can't run and currently sits in a mechanic's lot.

If you're not in this current situation, there's nothing wrong with comparing prices before taking your car in for work. Mechanics all charge based on the cost of parts. They also charge a labor fee for the work they perform.

You should ask what a mechanic charges for labor, and you should also ask how long a fix will take. Smaller car shops with less staff may take more time with repairs. You want to make sure you're paying a reasonable amount and that the repairs won't keep you from driving your car for too long.

Shopping around is also vital for routine auto maintenance. Inquire about pricing for oil changes, tune-ups, and vehicle inspections.

TFG Automotive employs expert mechanics and offers special prices for car maintenance. These specials keep your car maintained at a fair price.

Stay Local

One of the most challenging aspects of moving to a new city is losing a trusted mechanic. Patronizing a long-distance mechanic can get complicated.

If they have a towing service, you'll be charged more mileage fees should you break down. If they don't, you'll have to call a towing service. These tows for extra distance will add more to your repair bill.

Another reason to stay local is your ability to check in on the repairs. If you can reach your mechanic on foot or by public transportation, you can stop in at any time and check on the progress. When a mechanic knows you're close by, they are far more motivated to perform any repairs on time.

Read Reviews

The internet liberated public opinion in a way that directly impacted the way businesses operate. Customer reviews are everywhere. You can read reviews on dedicated review websites, social media, and search engines.

Dig through all the reviews and compare the positives and negatives. An auto maintenance shop with an overwhelming number of positive reviews is more than likely a trustworthy business.

Seek Documentation

Knowing your mechanic is well-qualified and certified will help you steer clear of shoddy work. Those who aren't certified might offer a lower price, but you can't be sure of the repair quality. When receiving a consultation, it's appropriate for you to ask for physical documentation of their up-to-date certifications.

ASE Certification

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the non-profit auto mechanic governing body. The ASE proctors certification tests and awards certification based on merit to ensure mechanics across the US can diagnose and repair cars and light trucks.

A mechanic can receive ASE Certification in nine areas of expertise:

  • Engine repair
  • Automatic transmission repair
  • Steering and suspension repair
  • Brake repair and maintenance
  • Electrical system repair
  • Heating and Cooling repair
  • Engine performance maintenance
  • Manual axle and drive train
  • Light diesel vehicle repair

A mechanic who applies and receives certification for one of these specialties must reapply after five years. The ASE requires recertification tests to ensure mechanics stay abreast of new automotive technology.

The ASE also recognizes mechanics who pass all nine core expertise areas as ASE Certified Master Technicians. You can be sure that every TFG Automotive mechanic has up-to-date ASE Certification.

Trust Your Instincts

Even with good reviews and certification, you might feel something off when searching for an auto maintenance shop. It could be a mechanic's dismissive tone, or it could be a lack of professionalism.

If you feel wary, you should trust your instincts and move on. An uncomfortable situation signifies other issues. A good mechanic understands customer service is part of their job.

Call TFG Automotive for Reliable Car Repair

Americans these days want to keep their cars running as long as possible. To get the most out of your investment means you need an honest car repair technician. Unfortunately, a trustworthy mechanic can be hard to find. 

Make sure to get recommendations and read reviews. Look for current certification and compare prices, and don't forget to trust your instincts.

Are you looking for a reliable auto repair shop in the Murfreesboro, TN area? TFG Automotive is the best choice for truthful and friendly automotive maintenance. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

 

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How Long Do Brake Pads Last? A Complete Guide

How long do brake pads last? This is a question we get asked pretty often. Luckily, our guide here has all the answers you need to know.

Brakes are one of the most essential systems of any vehicle. It is impossible to operate a vehicle safely without well-functioning brakes. But how long do brake pads last?

This is a question automotive technicians often get asked, but the answer remains rather unclear. Fortunately, this guide can help you find the answer to this eternal nagging question.

In order to understand how long your brake pads will last, you need to understand how they work and how brake pads let us know when they need replacement.

What Are Brake Pads?

When you press down on your brake pedal, your brake pads apply friction and pressure to the brake rotors. It is the brake pads that enable the rotors to slow the wheels and eventually stop them from turning. 

What Causes Brake Pad Wear?

Every time you press on the brakes, your brake pads get a little bit more used up. Continuous friction between your brake pads and your brake rotors causes them to wear down over time.

That's why brake pads won't last forever and eventually require replacement.

How Long Do Brake Pads Last?

Manufacturers offer a wide range when it comes to the life of their brake pads. They may say their brake pads will last anywhere from 25,000 to 65,000 miles. On average, the lifespan of brake pads is about 40,000 miles.

However, the reality is that every brake pad has a different lifespan. How long your brake pads last depends heavily on individual driving habits.

If you're a fast driver or spend a lot of time on the freeway, your brake pads might not last as long. Driving fast often necessitates stopping fast. The harder you press on your brakes, the sooner you may need brake pad replacement.

There are also different types of brake pads. The type of brake pad you use can affect the longevity of your brake pads as well.

Organic brake pads have the shortest lifespan. They're made from natural materials like carbon, rubber, and kevlar. Metallic brake pads have better durability and can last up to 50,000 miles.

Ceramic brake pads are found on luxury cars and designed for comfort. Ceramic brake pads can last up to 70,000 miles.

No matter what type of brake pads you have, how you drive will have the biggest effect on how long your brake pads last. There are several things you can do to increase the life of your brake pads.

Drive Slow

Reducing your driving speed can have a positive impact on the lifespan of your brakes.

If you drive slow, you don't have to apply as much pressure to your brakes. That also means a reduction in friction between your brake pads and rotors.

Reduce the Weight of Your Vehicle

This can be difficult if you have a large family or often move heavy materials around for work. If you can, try to remove large or heavy objects from your backseat or trunk.

This will make your car lighter and reduce the amount of work your brakes have to do to stop your vehicle.

Avoid Riding Your Brakes

When going downhill, people tend to push their brake pedal all the way floor. This creates a lot of friction between the brake pads and brake rotors. Instead, try to anticipate hills and use effective coasting techniques.

If your car is manual, you can also downshift in order to slow your vehicle down and reduce the pressure on your brake pads.

Always avoid riding your brake pedal as if it were a footrest. Over time this causes additional wear to your brake pads.

Use Engine Braking

Engine-braking is a great technique for avoiding excess wear to your brake pads. You can use it in any situation when you notice ahead of time that you will need to brake.

For example, when you see a light turn yellow ahead of you, take your foot off the brake. This gives your engine time to slow down on its own. Then when you do apply the brake, it requires less friction to stop the vehicle.

Signs Your Brake Pads Are Wearing Out

Fortunately, your car won't be shy about letting you know when it's time to replace your brake pads. You just have to know how to look for and listen to the signs.

Squeaking or Squealing

Squeaking and squealing are both common signs it is time to replace your brake pads. The reason they make noise is that manufacturers install a steel spring near the base of the brake pads to alert you when they're worn down.

Vibrating or Wobbling

If you notice vibrating or wobbling when you press down on your brake pedal, it could mean your rotors are warped.

Thin Brake Pads

If you can't see your brake pads through the spokes of your wheels or they appear to be less than a quarter-inch thick, it is time to replace your brake pads.

Metallic Grinding

Metallic grinding sounds are a clear indication that your brake pads are entirely worn out. Metallic grinding means your brake discs are actually making contact with your brake calipers. This causes significant damage to your brake system.

If you hear metallic grinding, the best thing to do is stop your car immediately, call for a tow, and get an inspection.

Indicator Lights

Some of the modern vehicles these days have indicator lights that will tell you when you need to replace your brake pads. If you wait until the indicator lights up, you will also have to change the indicator sensor.

If you notice any of the signs of brake pad wear listed above, it's time to take your car to a trusted technician for brake pad replacement.

Replacing Brake Pads

By now you should feel more confident in determining how long do brake pads last. If you've noticed the warning signs and are considering having your brake pads replaced, check out TFG Automotive.

With 15 years of experience in the Murfreesboro, TN area, they are the go-to for honest and friendly automotive repair. Consider making an appointment with TFG Automotive today and you'll be back on the road in no time.

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Auto Repair Shop Marketing for 2021: Top Strategies to Implement for Success

How do you plan to market your auto repair shop this year? For campaigns that deliver results, here are the top auto repair shop marketing strategies to know.

Almost 90% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. Are you marketing your auto repair shop online? If not, you could struggle to reach new customers.

With more people staying home to protect themselves from COVID, you need a digital marketing strategy. Digital marketing can help you reach more customers online. As you expand your reach, you can help consumers see your unique value.

Otherwise, they might choose the competition instead.

Here are seven auto repair shop marketing strategies you can use this year. With these tips, you can get ahead of the competition and draw in new customers. Boost business with these seven marketing strategies for auto repair shops today!

1. SEO Blogging

How are people finding your auto repair shop website? You can use digital marketing to generate more traffic to your website. With search engine optimization (SEO), you can make your website easier to find.

SEO helps your website content rank higher on search engines like Google. As your ranking improves, you'll appear in front of more people. A higher ranking can help you:

  • Generate more website traffic
  • Look credible in your industry
  • Position you ahead of competitors
  • Build brand trust and loyalty
  • Boost leads and conversions on your website

As more people visit your website, Google will notice you're gaining more traffic. Your ranking could improve further as a result!

SEO works based on the keywords consumers use in a search. First, use keyword research to determine what phrases your customers use. You can use Google Trends, Ahrefs, Keyword Planner, and SEMRush to develop a list of keywords.

Then, start creating content with those keywords in mind. Give each post a single focus keyword.

You'll include the focus keyword in the title, URL, and throughout your content.

Test out different content formats, including blogs, videos, infographics, quizzes, and polls. Then, try to post content on a schedule. Covering a few different topics can help your website appear for a range of searches.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate. By generating traffic through SEO, you can boost sales and improve your ROI.

2. UX Web Design

Google looks at your website before it determines your search engine ranking. If your website frustrates users, your ranking could drop. By adding user experience (UX) design to your auto repair shop marketing plans, you can give visitors an easy online experience.

Otherwise, you could lose potential customers. In fact, nearly 90% of online shoppers won't return to a website after a bad user experience. Another 53% of mobile visitors will leave a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. Meanwhile, consumers form 75% of their judgment about your credibility based on your website. 

Focus on minimalism. Clear away any clutter on your website.

Given your content room to breathe with white space.

Then, speed things up! Use Google PageSpeed Insights to make sure your pages load without lags.

Don't forget online security. Make sure your website has an SSL certificate, too.

Google looks at the mobile version of your website to determine rankings. Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure you're mobile optimized. 

As you use the rest of these auto repair shop marketing ideas, having a mobile website could help.

3. Social Media Marketing

Social media helps companies stay in contact with their customers. 

Look at what your competitors are posting on their own social media feeds. Which posts are generating engagement?

Reformat some of your blog content with social media in mind. Use an engaging caption for your posts. Then, add a call-to-action and link to your website.

For example, you can offer a free coupon if people schedule an appointment on your website before the weekend. 

Adding social media to your marketing plan for auto repair shop leads can help you generate fresh business.  

4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to create digital ads for your business. These ads can appear on search engines, other websites, or social media platforms. You can create text or visual ads using platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

With PPC, you'll pay each time someone clicks on one of your ads. The consumer will land on your website, where they can convert.

Before using these marketing strategies for auto repair shops, consider working with a professional. A PPC expert can help optimize your campaigns. They'll make sure you're improving your ROI instead of wasting money. 

5. Success Stories

Do you have a number of happy customers? Talk to them! They could help you generate fresh leads.

Have your happy customers post their reviews on your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Happy reviews can help you attract more local customers. It could help improve your local SEO ranking, too.

You can also record a testimonial video. Then, post it on social media and your website!

6. Email Marketing

You can use emails to keep customers up-to-date with your specials, news, and latest blog posts. Create an automated drip campaign for new subscribers, too. Offer website visitors a coupon to entice them to sign up to receive your emails.

Then, you can use email marketing to bring repeat customers back to your auto repair shop.

Don't forget to add your business' branding to your emails. As you use this digital marketing for auto repair shops guide, keep your brand consistent. Consistency can help you build brand awareness and recognition. 

7. Referral Programs

Your loyal customers can help you find new customers. Create a referral program and encourage people to share the news about your business. Offer them a reward for their referrals.

For example, you can offer a free tire rotation or oil change for every 10 referrals.

Referral programs can help you generate more brand trust and loyalty. New customers will see their friends already love your business. Then, they'll see all the reasons to love you, too!

Auto Repair Shop Marketing: 7 Strategies for Generating Fresh Leads

Don't fall behind the competition by using old marketing tactics. Instead, use these auto repair shop marketing tips! With these tips, you can boost brand awareness, generate leads, and grow your business.

Need help improving your digital marketing campaigns? We're here to help.

Contact us today to discuss your auto repair shop marketing strategy!

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7 Common Signs You Need New Brake Pads

There are several different signs you need new brake pads. If you would like to learn more, check out our guide right here.

Brake pads can last a while — some have withstood 100,000 miles on the road. Meanwhile, others have burnt out after a mere 100 miles. 

The average lifespan of a brake pad falls somewhere between those two figures. Most last for 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Perhaps yours have gotten you that far, and you're wondering if it's time to replace them. 

The only problem is, you're not sure what you're supposed to notice when it's time to book a repair. There are so many signs you need new brake pads that you and every car owner should know. Here are seven of them.

1. You Have Squeaky Brakes

This is probably the most common sign that your brake pads will give you when it's time for a replacement. And that's for good reason—car manufacturers have added this feature to keep you safe and aware of what's going on in your vehicle. 

On newer cars especially, brake pads have metal tabs built into them. When your pads wear down far enough to expose the metal tabs, it's time for you to replace them. And you'll know, because the metal will start to rub against the rotor, creating that screeching noise that you hear in your car. 

So, squeaky brakes are a telltale sign that your car requires a repair. Call your mechanic as soon as you start hearing this sound.

2. Your Brakes Have Lost Their Power

Have you started fading your brakes? You may not know this term, but the action is all too familiar to those in need of a brake repair. 

Let's say you live in a hilly area. You will have to fade your brakes to ensure your vehicle will come to a full stop when it's time. You press on them for a longer distance to slow down your car in preparation for a stop sign or stoplight. 

Over time, these long stretches of clamping down will reduce the efficacy of your brake pads. They rely on the friction created with the rotor to stop your car. But if the rotor and brake pad spend lots of time grazing one another as you brake fade, they will slowly create less friction, which makes it harder to stop. 

Once you notice you're pressing harder on your brakes or doing so for longer, don't hesitate. This is a telltale sign that you need a new brake pad installation. 

3. Your Car Pulls When You Brake

When you press down on your brake, does your car veer to one side? If so, it could be that the brakes on one half of your car have worn down more quickly than the other. 

If you notice your car pulling, you must have an expert check it out. It could be that the brake pads have worn down on half of your car. But it could also be down to tire pressure or a broken wheel bearing. If you ignore the problem, it can get worse, too—your steering wheel could lock up, for example. 

4. You Feel a Vibration 

Next, you might feel your leg or your entire car start to shake when you press down on your brakes. Yes, this can be a sign that you've got worn-out brake pads. 

Vibration is often down to malfunctioning rotors, which will wear down your brake pads unevenly. This imbalance causes your car to shake. 

Obviously, you will need to fix your rotors if your car has started vibrating. But if they've done too much damage to your brake pads, you may need a new set of those, too. 

5. There's a Clicking Noise Coming From Your Brakes

Car manufacturers make a point to put your brake pads somewhere secure. Whether they go into a bespoke compartment or they have clips to keep them in place, they are designed to stay where they are. 

So, if you press your brakes and you hear a clicking sound, you should be concerned. Your brakes may have worn down enough that they're rattling out of place. Or, the hardware designed to hold them has broken down. 

6. Your Brake Pads Look Thin

If you know how to find them, you can perform a visual check of your brake pads. If they appear to be less than a quarter-inch thick, then they are too worn and need replacing. 

You can typically find them by looking through the spokes of your wheels. Like we said, inspect the thickness of the pad to figure out if your pads have gotten too thin and need a replacement. 

7. Your Brake Light Comes On

Finally, your car may have thrown you a bit of a bone here—it might have turned on an indicator light to tell you that your brakes have worn down too much. You might not pay attention to this sign, though, since the signal appears benign. 

That's because your brake system indicator is the same as what alights when you pull your parking brake. So, you might ignore it when it appears—you already know what that means. 

But if you see the light on when your parking brake isn't engaged, take it as a sign. You should sign your car up for a brake repair service ASAP. 

Signs You Need New Brake Pads Mean Don't Hesitate

Perhaps now that you've read up on the signs you need new brake pads, you're sure that your vehicle requires a fresh set. Don't hesitate to act—your brakes play a vital role in your safety on the road, and you should never sacrifice that. 

We can help you with that. Click here to schedule an appointment, or call us at (615) 997-1426 to get started. Soon enough, you'll have fresh, functioning brake pads, and you can drive with confidence in your car once more. 

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What Are the Most Common Car Problems?

There are several common car problems that you need to be familiar with. You can click here for the key things to understand.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are more than 273 million registered highway vehicles in the United States. 

Now, with so many millions of sedans, trucks, and vans on the road, there are just as many people who have experienced car issues. As they head to see mechanics to fix their woes, these experts—including us here at TFG Automotive—start to see trends in what brings people into the garage. 

So, what are the most common car problems? Here's what we and other mechanics see most often. 

1. Warning Lights

For starters, drivers often see a mechanic when an indicator alights on their dashboard. This is, of course, the right move to make. These lights are designed to tell you when there's something amiss within your vehicle. 

Now, in order to understand when you should bring your car in for a service, you need to know what each signal means. For example, if you see the ABS symbol alight, it doesn't mean your anti-lock braking system is engaged. It means that it needs repair. 

Some of the symbols on your dash don't mean you need a repair. For instance, if you flip your high beams on, you will see a little signal for that alight. But you shouldn't ignore the others, especially those you don't recognize. 

2. The Battery

Your car runs on fuel or perhaps even electricity. But it still has a battery inside of it, and it plays a vital function: it turns your car's engine on. 

Now, most batteries will last for about six years, at which point you will need a replacement. That service brings many a driver into the shop. But broken battery-adjacent parts, such as the device's temperature sensor, can also require a repair service, too.

3. Tire Troubles

Your car's four tires are in constant contact with the road. They may get punctured, or they may fall of alignment as soon as you hit a pothole. 

That's why tire troubles are another major, highly common problem that mechanics have to fix. You can refill the air in your tire, of course, but you can't repair holes or re-align them yourself. 

4. Brakes

Your tires do a lot of work, as do your brakes. They also play a vital role in your safety behind the wheel, since they bring your car to a stop when necessary—and, sometimes, at the drop of a hat. 

So, when drivers experience telltale signs of a brake malfunction, they should be quick to come in for a service. The typical signs of a brake problem include squeaky, vibrating, or clicking brakes. You might also feel your car pull to one side when you stop—that could be a sign of uneven wear. 

No matter what you feel, if you think it's a brake-related issue, get to a mechanic as soon as possible. That way, you can drive with confidence in your car's safety and protect those around you, too.

5. Shaky Steering Wheel

Speaking of driving with confidence, you won't feel so sure of your vehicle if it's shaking as you drive. So, many a driver who has felt vibrations in their wheel have come in to see the mechanic, and for good reason.

A shaky steering wheel can stem from a handful of different issues. If you've just started your car, it could be the wheel bearings or suspension. If you notice it at faster speeds, your wheels could be out of balance. 

6. The Alternator

We've mentioned your car's battery and how important it is to your vehicle's function—you can't turn it on without one. The alternator plays a vital role in maintaining your car's energy systems once the battery has turned them on. As such, a broken one will bring many a car owner into the garage. 

The best way to fix an alternator is to replace it before it's broken. So, be sure to visit your mechanic for routine maintenance and checks to make sure your vehicle doesn't need parts replaced to sidestep an impending breakdown.

7. A Sputtering Engine

It can be jarring to experience a problem with your engine. It's the piece that powers your car, after all—hearing it spit and sputter can scare you if it happens behind the wheel. 

In most cases, it's the fuel or ignition systems that cause an engine to make these loud noises. Skipping routine replacement of these parts can land you in the mechanic with a sputtering engine. 

8. Noisy Wheels

We've covered noisy breaks, but wheels can squeak, too—and those noises often bring drivers in to see their mechanics. 

Most of the time, wheels get loud when the wheel bearing has gone bad. You'll notice it when you turn left or right. And it's a problem that an expert should diagnose and fix—so that's why it brings so many people in to see a professional.

9. Smoky Exhaust

Your car will have a light amount of haze coming out of its exhaust pipe, and that's normal. But many drivers have to see a mechanic because they notice way more smoke-colored exhaust emitting from their vehicle. 

Heavy exhaust can be yet another sign that there's a problem with your car's engine. And it's easy to tell what's going on based on the color of the smoke. For instance, white smoke means that coolant is leaking, while an almost black shade means the fuel is too rich for the engine. 

10. Oil Pressure

Skipping out on regular oil changes will send car drivers to the mechanic to fix an even bigger problem. Over time, the clean oil gets dirty and sludge-like, which can damage your engine. Specifically, the hardened oil can cause damage to engine parts and make your car run less efficiently.

So, heed the oil change advice provided by your car's manufacturer, and opt for synthetic oils where possible. They're less likely to congeal and send you to the mechanic to fix a problem with the oil pressure. 

Are You Dealing With Common Car Problems?

Perhaps you've gotten to the end of this list and realized that your vehicle is suffering from one of our common car problems. Which one is it? And do you know who can help you fix it? 

Click here to make an appointment at TFG Automotive today. We can help you with the above issues and get your vehicle running smoothly once more.