Kill the Germs, Not the Car

Disinfecting Vehicles Without Causing Damage

None of us wants to eat off a city sidewalk or stick our hands in a toilet, but we often forget how many germs, viruses, and bacteria live on the common surfaces we touch every day, including in our cars. Gross! Perhaps it’s time to put an end to those nasty contaminants inside your vehicle, but how can you do so without causing damage? We’ll give you some pointers. You can also call or stop by Jeff’s Auto Repair in Lynnwood, Washington, for answers to specific questions about products and cleaning methods that are safe for your car.

Cleaning 101: Basic Information

Sure, you want to kill the germs to protect yourself and your family, but you also want to protect the investment you have made in your car. Many of the products that are known to wage war on viruses and bacteria also damage your vehicle’s interior, especially when used repeatedly over a period of time. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) gives guidelines for sanitizing surfaces on their website. Be aware, however, that some of the recommended substances are counter-indicated by your car’s owner’s manual. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also warns against breathing in certain chemicals. There is an ozone machine for sanitizing car interiors, but it can be dangerous for people to use. In fact, it is outlawed in certain areas.

So what can you use?

A “damp cloth” is most often recommended by vehicle manufacturers, but it may not be enough to put an end to the things that can make you sick. You can choose a cleaner that states on the label that it kills germs, viruses, etc., yet does not contain bleach. Then you must decide if you want to risk wiping that particular cleaner across your interior surfaces. Also, be mindful of the contact times such products require in order to destroy their intended targets. Some kill germs instantly, while others take a few seconds or even minutes. Also, be aware that using dark window tints can also provide a better opportunity for viruses or bacteria to grow inside your car. When it comes to your sensitive electronics, you can purchase wipes made for these pieces of equipment that won’t damage them. These may not kill everything, so another option is to use voice commands when possible instead of touch screens. If you suspect mold growth, there are “bomb” spray cans that can be used with caution by leaving them inside the vehicle while you’re outside, but you may choose to leave mold control to professionals. Be sure to pay attention to high touch areas such as key fobs, door handles, seat belts, steering wheel, etc.

Cleaning Consultation

If you’re concerned about how to safely clean your car’s interior, consult an expert. You can check with the manufacturer or visit government websites. You’re also welcome to talk to us at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Lynnwood, Washington.

Stay-at-Home Orders for your Car

So you’re following the stay-at-home guidelines, only going out for food, medical necessities, or an essential job. Perhaps you’re even one of those people who can work from home and you’re having your supplies delivered. This means that not only are you sheltering in place but so is your car. The good news? You’re saving miles and travel expenses. The bad news? Your vehicle can actually suffer if left sitting too long. First, know that the entire staff at Jeff’s Auto Repair wants you to stay well and healthy. We look forward to seeing you soon at our Bellevue, Washington, location after this public health crisis has passed. Until then, we’ll give you a few pointers on how to keep your car up to par while it’s not on the road.

Things You Can Do At Home

There are some simple things you can do to maintain your vehicle while it’s sheltered in place in your garage. For instance, it’s a good idea to start the car and let it run a few minutes at least once every two weeks. (Caution: Please let the car idle outside or with the garage door open to avoid carbon monoxide build-up. Carbon monoxide is deadly!) Doing so will help you maintain your battery’s strength as well as circulate oil to lubricate the seals, preventing them from drying out, cracking, and leaking oil sooner than expected. Also, it is a good idea to operate the air conditioning system at this time. Like the engine, the AC system benefits from circulating coolant periodically to keep its seals in good working order so that you do not lose expensive refrigerant. The AC dries out the air, removing humidity, as well. This is important in preventing mold or mildew growth while your car is sitting. Finally, this may be a good time to “deep clean” your car rather than just run it through a drive-in car wash. A car’s interior needs cleaning periodically anyway, but it is particularly important to disinfect surfaces if you or a passenger may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Just be sure to check product compatibility so that you do not cause damage to the interior with harsh chemicals.

Getting Ready to Ride Again

As the old adage reminds us, “This, too, shall pass.” Eventually, we will all be able to resume our normal driving habits as part of our daily lives. While you’re waiting for this day to come, you can look over your car and make a list of items that need to be checked by a professional or repaired (lights, windshield wipers, tires, etc.). Once the crisis has passed, you’ll be well prepared to bring your vehicle to the ASE certified technicians at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Bellevue, Washington. If you are still traveling to reach essential services or jobs, we are prepared to assist you with car service and repair through no-contact drop-off and highly sanitary in-shop practices.

Trying to Maintain Your Car in Trying Times–It’s Still Important

We all know that the COVID-19 public health crisis has created trying times for everyone. As a city and community, we were particularly concerned when the first case identified in the United States appeared just north of Seattle in Snohomish County. Since then, our national focus has understandably been on this dangerous virus. People are less focused on car maintenance than they ordinarily would be. However, now might be a more important time than ever to ensure that your vehicle is maintained properly. At Jeff’s Auto repair on Sandpoint Way in Seattle, Washington, our ASE certified technicians are ready to help you maintain your car while keeping you safe from public contact and contaminated surfaces.

Why It’s Still Important to Maintain Your Car

Although your health should be your first priority, another important consideration is keeping your vehicle properly serviced and maintained. You want to be sure your car is in good working order so that you do not have difficulties reaching essential services such as medical service or grocery shopping. Further, you don’t want your car to become unsafe because of skipped service visits. Although you never want to have an accident and become injured from poor braking ability or unsafe tire traction, now is the worst possible time to have to make a hospital visit for a preventable injury. As you know, our medical system is already overwhelmed. Finally, since the virus has made an economic impact, most of us may put off purchasing a new car in favor of driving the ones we have a little longer. Routine service visits will enable our current rides to last longer.

Maintaining Your Car While Maintaining Social Distance

Even though we enjoy talking to our customers face-to-face, we know that now is not the time. We all must practice social distancing and take all possible precautions to prevent spreading the virus. Therefore, Jeff’s Auto Repair in Seattle, Washington, Sandpoint Way location, has made the commitment to provide you with the essential services you need for your vehicle while keeping you safe. Our staff is following all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and King County guidelines. We are repeatedly disinfecting all shop high-touch surfaces, and our service technicians are wearing disposable gloves–a clean pair for each car–as they’re working on your ride. Also, we are cleaning the high-contact points of your car both before and after the service. These include places such as the steering wheel, door handles, shifter knob, key, etc. Estimates, invoices, and payments can now be handled through text, email, or phone call, and we are making available 24-hour outside drop-off so that you do not have to make direct contact with anyone. Thus, we’re making it possible for you to maintain your vehicle as it should be even in these difficult days.

Safe Auto Repair in a Public Health Crisis

There’s no denying that, as a community, we are gravely concerned about the spread and consequences of COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus. Our state was the first in the nation to have a confirmed case and our county has been particularly hard hit. At Jeff’s Auto Repair in Renton, Washington, we have always taken our professional responsibilities seriously. Since our beginnings in 1980, we have been committed to honest, reliable car repair performed by certified technicians and backed by a generous warranty. Now, our responsibilities extend beyond the scope of normal car repair. We are committed to continuing making car repairs as an essential public service. We understand that our customers still need transportation to get critical items such as food and medicine as well as to get to high priority jobs such as those in the medical field. Further, we are determined to make your repairs without transmitting any viral contaminants to you and your family by adhering to strict disinfecting techniques.

Safety Precautions

As you know, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published guidelines for personal and community safety, recommending precautions to stop viral transmission. In addition, King County has its own set of mitigation strategies. Jeff’s Auto Repair is heeding all advisories as well as strengthening any measures that can be employed to protect our customers, families, and employees. First, every staff member has been trained according to public health guidelines. They are practicing proper hygiene as well as regularly sanitizing surfaces and disinfecting high-touch areas in our shop. Also, all employees are cleaning car keys, steering wheels, door handles, shift knobs, and any other recognized high-contact areas where the virus might reside on our customer’s vehicles both before and after any services/repairs. Further, our ASE certified technicians wear new, clean protective gloves as they make contact with each car, disposing of the gloves after use. We are committed to continuing to serve you and our community by maintaining the highest quality of auto service and repair while exercising appropriate safety precautions.

Contact-Free Auto Service and Repair

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have implemented a plan for contact-free auto service and repair to further protect you, our valued customers. We want you to stay well and healthy to be able to return to us face-to-face when this situation abates. Therefore, we now have an outdoor key drop option available 24 hours a day. Also, we are sending estimates and invoices electronically (via email and text) and taking payments over the phone. We love and support our community. We will continue monitoring health concerns and advisories, making adjustments to our working plan as necessary. Please know that we appreciate our customers and wish you well. Give Jeff’s Auto Repair in Renton, Washington, a call to let us know how we can help you with your auto needs at a safe distance.

Driving Habits that Hurt Your Car

Avoid These & Avoid Auto Repair!

You probably don’t want to visit the auto repair shop to fix sudden problems with your vehicle, but that’s precisely what you’ll do if you practice unsafe driving habits! We don’t just mean aggressive driving. You might be damaging your vehicle with the way you drive and not even know it! Don’t worry, that’s why Jeff’s Auto Repair is here. We can help you start taking better care of your vehicle before you ever visit our shop in Seattle, Washington. To start, all you have to do is avoid these damaging driving habits that can create severe problems. Then, you won’t need major auto repairs to correct them!

Hitting Potholes

Unfortunately, potholes can be found anywhere. When you hit them head-on, they can damage your vehicle’s suspension, steering, and alignment. You can’t expect potholes to disappear, but you can stay vigilant and alert to avoid them. If you can safely avoid hitting a pothole, you should do so to protect your car. If you can’t go around without driving off the road or into another lane of traffic, slow down instead. This will minimize the impact and any potential damage.

Neglecting the Parking Brake

When you pull into a parking spot — in your garage or driveway, at work, at the store, or wherever you leave your car — do you engage the parking brake? Whenever you park your vehicle, you should use the parking brake. It doesn’t matter what kind of incline or terrain you’re on, or what type of transmission you have. If you don’t use the parking brake, you place the responsibility of stopping your vehicle from rolling solely on the transmission. The parking brake is specifically designed to keep the wheels locked in place. It’s safer to use and will reduce premature wear on other parts.

Not Stopping Completely Between Park, Reverse, & Drive

Sometimes you’re in a rush to get going. It might be the pressure of someone waiting for your parking spot or your hurry to get out of the driveway and get to work. When that happens, you might be guilty of shifting from “Reverse” to “Drive” without completely stopping. Shifting gears while the car is still rolling can cause damage over time. It might save a fraction of time, but it won’t protect your transmission! Always come to a complete stop when putting your car into “Park,” “Reverse,” or “Drive.”

Contact the Experts

Think you might have damaged your vehicle and need auto repair? There’s no need to panic! Contact your local service specialists at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Seattle, Washington. We would be happy to help!

Auto Repairs You Can Do Yourself

And What to Leave to the Professionals

There are many reasons why vehicle owners might want to take auto repairs into their own hands. Jeff’s Auto Repair is always glad to hear when people are interested in learning how to take care of their cars! But we want to make sure that they understand how to do things the right way, and when it’s worth it to call in the professionals. Here are a few repairs you might be able to handle at home, and some that you’ll want to visit our shop in Bellevue, Washington for.

Check Engine Light

If your vehicle’s check engine light comes on, you need advanced diagnostic equipment to figure out what’s wrong. You can visit an expert who has this equipment, or you can invest in it yourself to use at home. OBD-II Scanners are a popular and reliable option. While this tool will allow you to read the trouble code from your car’s computer, it doesn’t always mean the repairs will be simple. If your car needs complicated engine repair, we recommend visiting our shop.

Battery Replacement

If you accidentally leave your car’s lights on, you’ll probably find the battery is dead. Replacing a battery is easy. Just visit your local auto parts store to purchase a replacement and install it into your vehicle. However, when it comes to electrical repairs or repeat problems, you should seek expert counsel. Sometimes battery problems are actually caused by a bad alternator. If that’s true, replacing the battery won’t do anything — in fact the alternator will deplete the new one in no time at all!

Tire Rotation

It’s good practice to rotate the tires every few thousand miles to prevent uneven wear and help them last longer. If you have the right tools to remove tires and a car jack, you can do this at home and save yourself a trip to the auto repair shop!

Oil Change

While they are a simple part of routine maintenance, oil changes aren’t something that can be completed easily in the home garage. There are a few steps to oil changes that have to be carefully followed to prevent spills and injuries from hot parts. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, you can try to change your oil at home. Otherwise, we recommend leaving this service to the professionals.

Emissions Repair

The emissions control system in your car is complicated and integral to your vehicle’s optimal performance. In the state of Washington, you’ll need a fully operational emissions system to pass smog checks. That’s why we recommend leaving any emissions repairs to the experts.

Wheel Alignment

A wheel alignment is another service that can’t be done easily at home, unless your garage is outfitted with a state-of-the-art alignment rack. Precision tuning requires advanced equipment and expertise. When it comes to your vehicle’s alignment, you want accurate results. Leave it to the professionals to restore your car’s proper geometry.

Want to learn more about auto repairs and tips you can use to keep your car healthy? Stay in touch with the experts at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Seattle, Washington!

Auto Repair FAQ

Answering Your Questions

As a leading auto repair resource in Seattle, Washington, Jeff’s Auto Repair is used to hearing some of the same questions from our customers. We’ve decided it’s time to share those questions and our answers online, so you have a quick reference for common auto repair questions. As always, if you have questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to reach out to our team members for more assistance!

How Can I Avoid Auto Repairs?

We get it. No one wants to spend their money or time at the auto repair shop. Even though we love seeing our customers and hearing how they are doing, we understand that the circumstances aren’t always great. Auto repairs can be stressful, especially when they seem to come out of nowhere. Our team has a way to help our community avoid these types of auto repairs. And the best part is that it allows our technicians to keep up with our customers! The road to a healthy vehicle involves routine maintenance. Follow a regular schedule of visiting the auto shop for basic services and repairs and we’ll be able to prevent major auto repairs from striking too soon.

Do I Need to Get Repairs?

Your car has a problem, but now really isn’t the time for you to visit the auto repair shop. Whether it’s because of time-constraints or a tight budget, some drivers opt to ignore problems with their vehicles. This is one of the worst things that you can do. Car problems don’t go away on their own and they will only cause more damage the longer they are left unaddressed. You could save yourself a lot of time and money by handling issues at the first sign than by waiting. Repairs will always be simpler and more affordable initially than if left alone for weeks or months!

Where Should I Go For Auto Repairs?

Jeff’s Auto Repair — of course! We are a highly-trained and awarded auto repair provider in the state with multiple convenient locations in the Seattle-area. Choose one that’s most convenient for you and get the auto repairs your car needs to continue running its best!

Mercedes A-Service & B-Service

Mercedes-Benz’s Repair & Maintenance

Flexible Service System

From the European import repair experts at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Bellevue, Washington, congratulations on your new Mercedes-Benz! Whether you’ve purchased a new or used Mercedes, you probably want to know everything you need to do to care for it. When does it need fluid replacement, brake repair, or tune-ups? Lucky for you, your vehicle’s manufacturer has outlined all the repair and maintenance details you need to know and programmed them into your car’s computer. The Flexible Service System onboard your vehicle will determine exactly when your specific car needs its next repair. And to keep things organized and easy to understand, Mercedes organizes routine services into two categories: A-Service & B-Service.

A-Service

The first round of repairs for Mercedes vehicles (models year 2009 and newer) is classified as A-Service. It is recommended after the first 10,000 miles or 1-year of driving. After that point, it is recommended at routine intervals of 20,000 miles or every 2 years.

When you visit an approved Mercedes repair specialist for A-Service, they will perform the following services:

B-Service

The next category of repairs for vehicles model year 2009 and newer is B-Service. It is recommended first at 20,000 miles (or about 1 year from the previous service) and every 20,000 miles after (about every 2 years).

Mercedes-Benz B-Service includes the following services:

The key difference between A & B Service is more the added tune-up items, including the filter replacements and brake fluid exchange.

Your Mercedes Repair Provider

Is your vehicle due for its next routine service? Or do you need repairs in between to protect performance? Jeff’s Auto Repair in Bellevue, Washington is your trusted resource for Mercedes repairs!

Check Engine Light Evolution

History of Check Engine Lights

Have you ever wondered what it was like to drive a vehicle before all of today’s advanced technology? Cars come equipped with complex computer systems to make our lives easier. From parallel parking to maintaining lane control, today’s cars are closer than ever to driving themselves, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Drivers ought to appreciate their vehicle’s computer-assisted systems, such as the check engine light that monitors engine function. Without your vehicle’s electrical systems and early warnings, you’d probably end up stranded on the side of the road. But where did this technology come from?

Malfunction Indicator Lamps (MIL)

In the 1980s, new vehicles made use of the malfunction indicator lamp (more commonly known today as the check engine light). Early versions were frequently confused with existing “trouble” indicators, likened to an “idiot light” that only indicated serious engine trouble and imminent breakdown. Computerized engine controls had self-diagnosis functions for the first time, which meant they could warn drivers of engine problems in advance of breakdowns. The light on the dashboard told owners to seek professional attention soon. Code behind the alert could be read by a special device and technician to determine what repairs were needed. Today’s check engine lights work pretty much the same way, just with more accuracy!

The MIL illuminates prior to the engine starting, in the moments before drivers turn the key all the way in the ignition, to prove the light is not burnt out. When no fault is detected, dashboard warning lights turn off. Older vehicles that required multiple cranking attempts used MIL to indicate failed starts. If the light remained on, drivers needed to take another attempt to start the car.

Starting in the 1990s and 2000s, some vehicle manufacturers used MIL to remind drivers of maintenance intervals. For example, Mazda programmed the light to come on at 80,000 miles, regardless of engine health and function to encourage owners to visit for maintenance service. This kind of alert was known as an odometer trigger. Chrysler vehicles built in the early 1970’s used similar odometer-triggered reminders labeled, “Check EGR,” which were reset at a Chrysler dealership.

What Is Emissions Testing?

Everything You Need to Know About Smog Checks

If you are new to Renton, WA, you might be unfamiliar with state-mandated emissions testing. The state of Washington requires drivers to complete smog checks before renewing registration to ensure all vehicles comply with the minimum standards for emissions. Enforcing checks promotes healthy air quality and reduces pollution for all residents of Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.

  1. Who Needs An Emissions Test?

  2. Most gasoline-powered engines need emissions tests, except for motorcycles, models year 2009 and newer, the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.

  3. Where Can I Get My Vehicle Tested?

  4. You must find an authorized testing station or Washington Applus Test Station. For drivers in Renton, WA, Jeff’s Auto Repair is your local emissions testing station. For more information and locations, visit the DMV’s website.[1]

  5. When Do I Need a Smog Check?

  6. When transferring vehicle and registration ownership, a retest is required unless the last test was within one year. Drivers must complete emission testing prior to tab renewal.

  7. What Can I Do To Help My Vehicle Pass?

  8. Well, maybe not all drivers ask this question before arriving for their emissions test, but Jeff’s Auto Repair wants our customers to avoid failure and retesting. We recommend that you warm your vehicle up before the test with 10-15 minutes of highway driving and run the vehicle until the moment of the test to potentially improve results.

  9. What If I Fail the Test?

  10. If your vehicle fails the emission test, your tester will provide the cause for failure so you can make repairs. You can return to an Applus station within one year for a free retest. Vehicles with missing or tampered emission control equipment will not pass or receive waivers for multiple failures.

If you need more information about emissions testing in the state of Washington, feel free to contact Jeff’s Auto Repair in Renton, WA or the DMV. We are happy to answer any of your questions and concerns about checks and repairs.

Endnotes:
  1. DMV’s website.: https://local.dmv.org/washington/king-county/renton/emissions-and-smog-testing.php