Lawson Automotive | We Can Cure Your Car's Aches

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A Note About Brake Repairs…

We all know about “bait and switch” tactics done by retailers…. so let me tell you about “bait and switch” done by auto repair facilities, mainly the brake repair shops that advertise the $99 brake jobs.

Ask any reputable repair shop what a typical brake job costs (for normal cars i.e.  not BMW/Mercedes, heavy trucks etc etc ), and its about $200- $250 per axle (a little more than half of it labor at around $90 an hour, and the balance being the cost of pads).  This assumes that the rotors (what the brake pad presses against) can be machined (re-surfaced to ensure a flat braking surface) and therefore re-used.  If the rotors cannot be re-used (and some higher end vehicles have one-time use rotors), then rotors must be added to the bill (wide variance but typically an extra $100 – $150).

So you can quickly do the math and realize that a $99 complete pads and rotors brake jobs just doesn’t make sense.  Maybe you can get some extremely inexperienced guys to do the labor and put on some ridiculously inexpensive pads and rotors, but at what cost, your life when they fail??  The reality is that most of these shops get you in there, and then end up selling you a $300 – $400 brake job.  At least that’s what the industry says their average ticket is.

Anyway – don’t take my word for it. Do a little research on the internet.  You will find plenty of unhappy customers complaining about how they got “bait and switched”

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The best used cars??

We often have customers ask us about what we recommend for buying a used vehicle.  Without getting into specific models – but just talking about which manufacturers have cars that seem to hold up better over the long term, our answer is easy.

Toyota, with Honda in a close second  Despite the brake related “problems” in Toyotas that have made the news headlines over the past year, we still find that Toyotas are just the best made cars in the world.  They typically don’t fall apart once they get to a certain age or mileage point, their engineering is sound (cars are well designed), and there are plenty of good aftermarket parts for them (which in the end costs you alot less money). Frankly, we haven’t seen any of the purported brake problems.

If you have to drive something a nicer, Lexus (made by Toyota) is by far away the most reliable luxury brand we’ve seen.

Regardless of the used car you’re looking at, make sure you have a pre-buy inspection done on the vehicle by a reputable repair facility (like Lawson Automotive) BEFORE you buy it to ensure that you’re not buying a money pit!

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Well, its official.  Lawson Automotive is a State Safety Inspection facility.  We appreciate everyone’s patience.   Just a note, if you live in a county (like Dripping Springs in Hays County), you should get your safety inspection done in that county.  If you come to me (in Travis County), i have to do an emissions test no matter what (which isn’t required yet in Hays – at least for now).

If you live in Southwest Austin / Oak Hill, Circle C, Lakeway etc  (Travis County communities), we’re the right place for you to come get your vehicle inspected.

ALSO – we are a RECOGNIZED EMISSIONS REPAIR FACILITY as well.  If your vehicle does not pass the emissions test and needs emissions repair, not only can we fix it, but we can also help you qualify for up to $600 towards the repair provided by the county.

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Fuel Economy 101

I admit it. I used to drive a few miles out of my way to save a few cents a gallon. But now that gas is nearly $3.00 a gallon, those pennies don’t seem to matter as much. Nonetheless, before you go hunting for cheap gas deals, consider these sure-fire ways to stop these common problems that can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 25% in the aggregate.  Most of these items are cheaper than doing mechanical repairs on your automobile or truck.

  • Check your tire pressure monthly. Under-inflated tires especially can rob you of as much as 10% of your fuel economy, cause serious safety issues, and lead to excess wear on tires (which results in you needing  to replace them much quicker than normal).
  • Have your alignment checked every six months, or more frequently if you’ve been driving on rough terrain or have hit any potholes or curbs lately. Just like incorrectly inflated tires, bad alignment will affect fuel economy as well as cause abnormal wear on your tires.
  • Every two years, take your car to your trusted Austin auto repair facility to see if your engine needs tuning up. A badly running engine is inefficient and bad for the environment as well. You may not need a tune-up every two years, but it certainly is worth having it checked out to make sure.
  • Change your air filter every 12,000 miles. DO NOT HAVE THE DUST/DIRT BLOWN OUT. The high pressure air from typical air blowers will actually create larger holes in the filter, which allow more dirt into your engine, creating a worse situation than before! Air filters are cheap, so don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • Have your fuel injectors cleaned annually or every 12,000 miles. Your fuel injectors get clogged up from dirt in the fuel, which creates energy robbing deposit buildups in the injectors and combustion chamber. A complete injector cleaning will keep your engine running smoothly and only runs about $120.

You might not think a 25% reduction in fuel economy would be substantial, but if you put a pencil to it, based on $3.00 gas, driving 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that’s supposed to get 20 mpg, it represents a difference of $750 ! And if your car normally gets 16 mpg, the difference is $925 ! Every year. For every car you have . Think about that the next time you’re out hunting for the cheapest gas in town.

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A Word on “Recommended Maintenance”

Dec 11, 09

I’ve noticed that some people think that you HAVE to do the service intervals listed in the manual on your new car to keep the warranty intact.  Maybe dealers let you think this, and maybe even imply that you have to take it to them, but lets just set the record straight.   You don’t need to do ANYTHING to your car to keep the warranty intact.  This is NOT to say that i’m recommending that.  These items are RECOMMENDED by the manufacturers to keep your vehicle running in good shape and cause you minimal problems down the road.  Not changing your oil, filters, rotating your tires, etc etc is a good way to mess up your vehicle really bad.  But its not REQUIRED.  The only exception i can think of is if you’re leasing the vehicle (sometimes the lease may require you to keep up with scheduled maintenance).

And its certainly not necessary to take the car to the dealer. If you’re a good enough mechanic, you could do it youself.   But in the end, you could take it to your trustworthy indepedent auto repair facility (like us) and spend alot less than you’d do at your dealer.  Its not rocket science and its all just very basic stuff.

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