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How to avoid overpaying for your rental car

When you rent a car this summer, don’t look for one price. Look for three.

There’s the low rate you’re quoted when you’re shopping for wheels, the final and more expensive rate after all required taxes and fees have been added — and the real price.

Yes, it’s that complicated. Consider what happened when Brian Scios rented a car from Hertz in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently. He thought his “final” rate would be $150, but after his plane arrived late, the car rental company upped it to $550.

“I argued with a representative for a few minutes, showing him my confirmation printout, but he said that’s what he had on screen,” says Scios, who works for a nonprofit organization in New York. “It was late, we wanted to start driving, so I just paid it and figured I’d fight it later.”

This sleight of hand, which is all too common in the travel business, is now a full-fledged epidemic in the car-rental industry. The rental price for a Chevrolet Spark “or similar” from Hertz at the Fort Lauderdale airport is $106 per day, but after all required taxes and fees are added, it jumps to $140. And at the counter, you might pay even more, as Scios did.

A 2015 survey by the Australian consumer research firm Canstar Blue found nearly 3 out of every 5 consumers are confronted with extra charges when they return a rental vehicle. A quarter of those surveyed disputed the final cost, according to the research. (Many of the car-rental companies operating in Australia answer to American owners and operate under rules similar to those in the United States.)

What’s going on? The car-rental business is taking a page from the airline industry, trying to upsell customers, broadside them with junk fees such as frivolous charges for “damage” to the vehicle or find a way — any way — to charge more. And make no mistake: Car-rental companies have you in their crosshairs this summer.

But you don’t have to overpay for your wheels. Carefully reviewing the fine print and knowing the traps and meticulous documentation of the transaction can ensure that you pay exactly what you expected.

Hertz spokeswoman Lauren Luster says the company’s records showed two reservations under Scios’s name, which “caused the initial confusion,” noting, “Mr. Scios wasn’t charged as a result of a fee.” After he contacted the company, Hertz adjusted his rate by applying the original prepaid rate to the reservation, which generated a refund of the price difference. Scios says he made only one reservation.

“We have extended our apologies to Mr. Scios for the inconvenience he experienced following his rental with us,” Luster says.

Wait-until-the-end fees can actually be divided into two distinct categories: the ones presented to you when you pick up the car — commonly called the “upsell” — and those tacked on at the end of your rental. Although there’s no formal name for these unwelcome charges, they’re often referred to as the “broadside” or “gotcha” among consumer advocates.

“To avoid these types of charges, customers need to be familiar with the most common car-rental rip-offs and know which of the add-ons offered by rental-car companies are truly necessary and which are not worth paying extra for,” says Jordan Perch, an editor for the automotive services site DMV.com.

It’s difficult to offer advice on options such as a navigation system or car seat; those are personal decisions. It’s easier to generalize about car-rental protection. It’s almost always overpriced, and you can obtain similar coverage through your auto insurance, credit card or a company such as Insuremyrentalcar.com. But on the issue of fees tacked on at the end of a rental, there’s little disagreement. They are both unwelcome and often unjustified.

Nenad Cuk, a frequent car renter who works for a marketing agency in Salt Lake City, says attention to detail is important. That extends beyond the fuel gauge. Many car-rental customers take pictures of their vehicle just in case the car-rental company decides to send a bill for damage to the car. The images prove the car was returned in acceptable shape.

“Always make sure that you listen to anything that might be mentioned that you’ll have to pay for upon returning the car,” Cuk adds. Employees may mention it as an “oh-by-the-way,” but when it shows up on your credit card, you may feel differently.

Nothing is ever final, though. Sorab Bhardwaj of Jersey City, N.J., returned a Hertz rental and for weeks afterward thought everything had been settled. Not exactly. He discovered a charge on his credit card from a company called PlatePass, which claimed he hadn’t paid for a toll on the New Jersey Turnpike. “I wasn’t there,” he says. After some haggling, Hertz offered him a voucher for a future rental if he agreed to pay the $11.90 charge from PlatePass. (Bhardwaj had his revenge by founding a car-rental coupon site called Zalyn.com that has arguably made up for the fee and then some.)

When should you worry about these extras? Probably when a car-rental employee tells you not to worry. For example, when a representative tells you a quarter-size dent is just “wear and tear” and that you shouldn’t be concerned about getting bill for the damage. Or when an employee invites you to hop on the shuttle to the airport terminal, even when you still have a question about your rental, as Brian Gutherman, an engineering consultant from Shamong, N.J., recently did. Sure enough, he found a “fuel service” charge on his bill shortly afterward.

He disputed the charge, sending the company a gas station receipt, and the fee was rescinded.

You don’t have to be a travel expert to see what’s happening behind the scenes. Customers crave low car-rental prices, and car-rental companies need to make more money. The only way to do it is by quoting a low rate and then increasing the price, first by adding taxes and mandatory fees, then offering optional insurance and other extras and finally hitting you with after-the-fact fees and junk surcharges.

It’s difficult to know who to blame: the customers who want low rental rates or the companies who use less-than-honest means to provide them. But something tells me this will end with either litigation or legislation.

This information was provided to us by Chris Elliott.    Elliott is a consumer advocate, journalist and co-founder of the advocacy group Travelers United. Email him at chris@elliott.org.


#rental car


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Power Steering Noise

Customer brought in 2009 Lincoln with complaint of power steering noise.  We replaced the condenser and did a BG power steering fluid exchange.  (Includes a cleaner, conditioner and new fluid)

No more noise!!




#powersteeringnoise   #powersteeringfluidexchange   #powersteering


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I want to wish all the father’s a  Very Happy Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, 2016!  May your day be filled with fun with your family, laughter,  good food.   As I was writing this blog, I wondered where Father’s Day originated.  Here’s what I found out!

Mother’s Day was the inspiration of Fathers Day.  However, it didn’t seem to take on the same enthusiasm as Mother’s Day.   Father’s weren’t as excited to get flowers, candies and gifts as the mothers.  (Imagine that!)    On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.  The next year, a Spokane , Washington woman named Sonara Smart Dodd, born in Arkansas, wanted to show her appreciation to her father.  She was one of 6 children raised by her widowed father.  She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful:  Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide “Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.”   However, many men continued to dislike the day.  As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving.  They believed it was a “commercial gimmick to sell more products –often paid for by the father himself.”  We should thank Richard Nixon for making fathers day a holiday.  In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation, during his campaign,  making Father’s Day a holiday at last!  So there it is!   Thanks to History.com


fathers day 2016


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1981 Chevrolet Corvette – Hot Rod Power Tour

1981 vette good

As he was headed to Louisiana for the Hot Rod Power Tour, customer complained that he could “feel the rear end moving around”.    He brought in his 1981 Corvette in the shop, our diagnosis:  We replaced the left rear trailing arm bushings.   That afternoon he and his buddy in this 65 Corvette  were on their way!    They were headed for 7 days/ 7 cities, starting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana  and ending in Kansas City Missouri.  Have fun Mark!

vette 2

#trailing arm bushings  #rear end moving around  #hot rod power tour

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If your steering wheel shakes only when you brake, you probably have an issue with your brake rotors.  When you apply the brakes, the brake pads squeeze the spinning rotors to stop the vehicle.  If the rotors are warped, have uneven wear, or have been improperly installed, the brake calipers will vibrate while the brakes are applied, causing your steering wheel to shake when applying the brakes.

If the rotors are only slightly warped or unevenly worn, it may be possible to have your repair shop reface them to correct the problem.  If the rotors are beyond repair, they may have to be replaced.   If the rotors are new or have just been machined, it is possible that they were not properly mounted to the axle.

If you have concern with your brakes, call your Repair shop ASAP to get your brakes and rotors inspected.

#brakes #rotors #shake #steering

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Auto A/C Repair Things You Should Know

Auto A/C Repair Things You Should Know

With the days getting hotter, we are seeing more people bring their vehicles in to check the air conditioner.  If your air conditioning isn’t blowing cold air, there are a few different things that could be wrong with it.

It Needs Recharging

The most common cause of an air conditioner not getting cold enough is that it needs to be recharged. You can recharge your refrigerant by yourself, but if you’re not comfortable doing it, one of our ASE Certified mechanics are  standing by and should be able to get your cold air flowing again pretty quickly.

There’s a Freon Leak

Freon is the chemical that cools the air, so if there’s a leak in the system, it will eventually run low or run out. Todays A/C systems are very sensitive. They require a specific amount of Freon, measured in pounds, to operate correctly.

The proper way to check the system for the correct volume of Freon is with a charging machine. This device will first remove all Freon form the system then input the correct amount for proper operation.

Freon leaks may be very, very slow. If you add more Freon and lose your cold air within a few weeks, however, you may need to have the hoses and other system components checked and replaced.

The A/C Compressor May Not Engage

This problem can occur due to a variety of conditions. Failure can occur when there’s an electrical fault in your compressor’s circuit or clutch, Freon can be low or the vehicle can be overheating.

Today’s cars are computer controlled and one of the first systems that is turned off when the computer senses an engine problem is the A/C system. Usually, the malfunctioning part has to be replaced by a qualified mechanic.

The Blend Air Door is Stuck

There’s a small hatch inside your car’s ventilation system called the “blend air door”. When you turn your environmental system from heat to cold, the door should change to drawing in cold air. If it doesn’t change, it will still be drawing heat from the engine and blowing it on you! Again, this is a job for a qualified mechanic.

You Can Feel Cold Air, But It’s Not Blowing

This could mean the A/C’s fan has stopped working. It may be as simple as changing a wire, or you may need a new fan unit. Again, this isn’t something you can really change yourself, especially since it may require taking apart your car’s dashboard to reach all of the components.

Other Issues

Your A/C system is complicated, and while there are some easy fixes like adding Freon, there are also more difficult issues that only a trained and certified mechanic can fix. In a few cases, the problem is indicative of more severe issues, but usually repairing the A/C is a fairly simple job.  Call us and make your appointment to bring your car or truck in.   You’ll be glad you did!

#autoacrepair #caracrepair

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