Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto Center   Aberdeen N.J.

Driving Safer Amid Disturbing Roadway Trends


Our roads are deadlier than ever—and texting is only part of the problem. But this is not all about teens and texting. The truth is that distracted driving is a big problem for older adults, too.   

According to the latest stats, 40,200 people died in roadway accidents across the United States last year. When you add in the numbers from 2015 (37,757 deaths), it marks the largest two-year jump in motor vehicle-related fatalities in 53 years!    

At Advanced Tire & Auto Center (146 Hwy. 35 North in Aberdeen), we see the results of distracted driving on a daily basis. With all the latest and greatest technologies available at your fingertips, it’s hard for most people not to be distracted while driving.  A typical car today is Wi-Fi enabled with large touch screens where you can do almost anything—listen to Pandora, check your Facebook page and email accounts. Manufacturers have also begun to migrate all of the vehicle’s driving and comfort controls to the touchscreen, forcing drivers to spend more time focused on the screen rather than the road. Time spent scrolling through menus to perform simple tasks like turning on your heated seat, adjusting climate controls or even reading messages sent by the manufacturer to alert you to upcoming maintenance needs can create an unsafe environment.     

What can you do to protect yourself and your family from distracted driving?   

For starters, make a commitment to keep your eyes on the road. Sometimes, that might mean foregoing your desire to listen to a different song, change a vent setting or otherwise look at the touchscreen. To encourage other members of the family to develop the same attitude and habits, consider sitting down as a family and watching a film like “One Second to the Next,” available on YouTube. These interviews with distracted drivers and their victims go beyond statistics to truly hammer home the dangers.    

It’s also a good idea to get extremely familiar with the menus and functionality of your car’s dashboard display. In fact, you should actually practice using the technology. This will help you avoid, say, getting rear-ended because you were sitting at a red light, trying to figure out how to start Pandora, when the light turned green. If you’re going to use it, learn how to use it quickly and accurately. (But avoid using it while the car is in motion.)   

None of this is to suggest that dashboard technologies are the only cause of distracted driving. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid glancing at your phone or texting whenever you’re in the car. Commit to this and stick to it.   

Of course, you can also consider buying a vehicle with life-saving technologies. Vehicles with rearview camera systems, electronic stability control or more advanced features such as auto emergency-braking, adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring can save your life when you run out of skill, luck or talent. However, we all still need to be mindful of the potential distractions these technologies can cause if not used properly.

The new technologies in today’s vehicles are essentially a prelude to the new wave of futuristic, driverless cars. Many observers think the phenomenon could one day dramatically reduce roadway accidents and fatalities, possibly even to zero. But until that happens, keep your eyes on the road, and stay safe!   

Working closely with collision centers and insurance companies, Advanced is among only a handful of Independent Repair facilities in New Jersey with the capabilities and certifications to repair the advanced collision-avoidance systems found on today’s vehicles. Accordingly, we understand how these technologies are changing our driving habits—for better and worse.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Advanced Tire and Auto Center NJ: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR?When I was growing up,...

Advanced Tire and Auto Center NJ: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR?

When I was growing up,...
: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR? When I was growing up, most women would ask their fathers or husbands to take the car to the mechanic. The id...

When I was growing up, most women would ask their fathers or husbands to take the car to the mechanic. The idea was that men knew how to fix cars, while women would get hoodwinked. But after working as an automotive repair technician for the past 16 years, I'd like to share a secret with you - today's cars are a mystery to nearly everybody including many auto mechanics.
The typical car is a Wi-Fi-enabled, rolling gizmo with USB ports,  Bluetooth, satellite navigation, and an average of 38 onboard computers. This complexity is increasing by the day as manufacturers add features borrowed from prototype driverless cars - everything from the latest collision-avoidance systems to outright "autopilot" modes.

These changes are creating big challenges for those who want to get their cars fixed correctly the first time, at a fair price. Successfully servicing and repairing these vehicles increasingly hinges on access to sophisticated, manufacturer-specific diagnostic technology - expensive factory equipment that few independent garages or national franchise operators are willing to invest in. To save money and offer broad-based capability, many garages rely on generic scanners that spit out limited information. Much like an x-ray, generic scan tools offer a limited view, while in comparison, a factory scan tool is like an MRI of your vehicle-and it takes months, even years, to master the function and operation of each individual factory tool. Factory scan tools, paired with certified technicians, allow access into the vehicle's operating systems. This yields a clearer picture of what's happening with your vehicle, and it can save you a lot of money.

Let's say your check engine light comes on. A generic scan might yield a single code: "oxygen sensor." The mechanic changes your oxygen sensor based on the limited view of your vehicle and information provided by this generic scan. Like a blindfolded dart-thrower, the mechanic just took a guess, but it didn't work. The real problem, it turns out, was a simple vacuum leak. Unfortunately, many shops see the return visits that come from such incorrect diagnoses as an "opportunity" to charge you for yet another attempted repair.

In addition, don't be snookered by ads for "free diagnostics." All too often, these involve a generic scan that could fail to properly identify the  problem. Be willing to pay upfront for a complete diagnostic overview with factory equipment. This certainly beats hauling your car back to the shop and paying for each misguided "repair."

Asking the Right Questions

    Still, there's no need to feel jittery about taking your car to the shop. Just be sure to ask the right questions. Does the shop you have in mind have the right equipment for you specific vehicle? The garage should be able to physically show you the factory diagnostic tool it plans to use. Dealerships service only one manufacturer, while many independent shops attempt to repair all makes and models using one universal generic scan tool. (At Advanced Tire & Auto Center, we have invested in 21 factory diagnostic tools, offering broad coverage for many domestic and foreign manufacturers.)

Additionally, are the mechanics ASE Certified or NJ Emission Repair certified? Have you noticed the industry has begun to advertise techs as "trained" rather than "certified"? That's no accident. Anyone can be described as "trained." But it takes a lot of time, money, and a strong commitment to obtain certifications. Because of a high mechanic turnover rate, many independent shops and dealerships are unwilling to invest in certifying all of their mechanics.

  Finally, you also want to vet your choice via outside sources. Car repairs merit some research. Be skeptical of review sites that allow friends and family to praise the business. It's smarter to read reviews from actual customers on sites like SureCritic.

Holmdel native Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto center in Aberdeen NJ is a veteran auto technician with more than 16 years experience. She is a State of  New Jersey Certified Emission Repair Technician and Licensed Emission Inspector, and has ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Diesel Technologies certifications.
  Contact      732-290-7300