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Your NC State Inspection can seem a bit…obtuse. If your car is running fine – especially if it’s brand new – it might seem like a waste of time for it to be inspected. This is especially true because it’s just that: an inspection! Nothing actually changes about your car afterwards.

However, a state inspection is actually a complex process requiring advanced automotive knowledge and training. The process is subject to strict legal regulation, and shops like Fast Lube Plus must be familiar with the regulation to perform inspection.

There’s more to your inspection than just a glance.

Safety vs. Emissions Inspection

North Carolina has two types of vehicle inspections: safety and emissions.

Safety inspections are required everywhere in the state. They focus primarily on the physical aspects of your car: brakes, tires, seatbelts, headlights, and anything else that could make your car dangerous for public operation.

Emissions tests are a bit different. Your car releases a certain amount of harmful greenhouse gases, the limits of which are mandated by the federal government. Because emissions are most concentrated in cities, emissions tests are only required in the state’s 48 most populous counties. Naturally, most of the Triangle falls in that category.

Both inspections have some minimum requirements. For instance, cars made before 1996 don’t have the in-car computers required for emissions testing. Cars older than 35 years also do not require safety inspections. This might sound dangerous, but most cars that old are kept as antiques or showpieces.

Station Qualifications

Becoming authorized to inspect a car is a lot like learning to drive one. It starts with an eight-hour class that can be taken at a community college, followed by a written exam. A local inspector or auditor then administers a live inspection test.

Inspectors must also renew their licenses. Safety inspection licenses must be renewed every four years. Emissions inspections are even more stringent, with an additional class and test and a two-year renewal period.

How We Compare to Other States

State inspection laws vary dramatically, but most share North Carolina’s policy of an annual safety and emissions inspection. However, some states are quite different.

  • California: new cars sold in California actually follow an entirely different emissions standard, one much tougher than the federal requirements. They also require emissions inspections for all cars made after 1975. This is due to Callifornia’s extremely dense urban areas.
  • Georgia: only cars in and around Atlanta require emissions testing.
  • Nevada: only in Las Vegas and Reno, likely because the rest of the state is quite empty.
  • Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North and South Dakota, and South Carolina: no inspections of any kind!

3 Reasons You Should Use Synthetic Motor Oil

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Cars have come a long way from the rattly metal boxes of yesteryear. Even the most humble economy box features advanced technology.

So it’s a bit strange that many car owners still use the same old gunky oil that their forefathers did. Many new cars call for synthetic oil, oil that is man-made from both petroleum and other materials. While it might sound like marketing mumbo-jumbo, there’s a reason manufacturers are making the switch. Even for your old car, synthetic oil offers some useful benefits!

Better Engine Protection

Synthetic oil has been used for years in professional racing for its duration at high temperatures. Now you can buy economy cars with race-tested technologies, like the direct injected and turbocharged VW Golf.

These new technologies can generate more heat, heat that can overwhelm old-fashioned fossil oil. Synthetic oil, however, has no problem handling it! This comes in handy in traffic jams during those hot Triangle summers.

On the cold side of things, synthetic oil also gives better lubrication during cold starts. During a cold start, conventional oil is thicker and takes longer to enter the engine. This brief lack of lubrication can add up over time, shortening the life of your vehicle. Most synthetic oils lessen this problem by staying slick at low temperatures.

Longer Service Intervals

If you travel a lot, you’re probably accustomed to frequent oil changes. Most conventional oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 6,000 miles, depending on operating conditions. It’s an expense and inconvenience that adds up.

Synthetic oils retain their strength longer, so long that on some vehicles (including the VW Golf mentioned above) you don’t have to change your oil for 10,000 miles! While the initial cost of a synthetic oil change is higher, you save money over time by not having to change it as often.

Better Fuel Efficiency

A high friction, heavy oil (like 10W-40 or 20W-50) is harder for your engine to move against. This is good because it provides protection, but bad because it can have an effect on your car’s fuel economy. Synthetic oil often contains additives that reduce this friction, meaning it maintains its slippery qualities while protecting your engine.

Long-term, synthetic oil also runs cleaner. This prevents the gunky deposits that years of conventional oil usage leave inside your engine, gradually reducing its fuel economy. Note that synthetic’s effect on fuel economy also depends on your engine and car, but you may experience a 2-3% increase!

Next time you change your oil at Fast Lube Plus, ask about our synthetic option. We use Castrol EDGE, one of the highest quality synthetic oils available.

FLP_Webslider4_a

FLP_Webslider4_aWhen money and time are tight, it can be tempting to put off car maintenance. After all, it’s still running, right? Who cares if there’s a little rattle, or a check engine light that won’t go off?

Unfortunately, this can be an expensive and dangerous mistake! To give you an idea of just how important maintenance is, we’ve collected some “worst case scenarios” for skipping key maintenance procedures. We’ve also gathered some average maintenance costs from the RepairPal app (available for iOS and Android) for an average priced car (a 2008 Ford Focus.)

What if you never changed your oil?

Oil picks up grime from combustion and any dirt that gets sucked in your engine. Naturally, it gets pretty nasty. If you avoid changing the oil, it stops lubricating your engine and turns this grime into thick deposits. This can cause overheating, worse gas mileage, or complete engine failure. Here’s a photo example from a BMW 3-series. Worst case scenarios include:

  • Head gasket failure ($1538+)
  • Oil pump failure ($713+)
  • Oil pan replacement ($294+)

What if you don’t change your timing belt on time?

A timing belt keeps all those moving bits in your engine from crashing into each other. Some cars have chains, which are maintenance free. If you have a belt, it typically has to be replaced every 60,000 – 100,000 miles. Most cars also have interference engines, which means if this belt snaps, your engine is done. Usually, this means you have to buy a new car.

A timing belt repair usually costs around $600 – $1000, so it’s not cheap. It’s still cheaper than buying a new car, so save up for it!

What if you don’t get an alignment?

As your car drives over bumps and potholes, the suspension gradually gets a little crooked. You’ll notice this if you’re going straight and your steering wheel veers left or right. An alignment fixes this problem, and ensures your tires and suspension wear evenly. Avoiding an alignment can mean:

  • New tires ($350+)
  • Axle replacement ($485+)
  • Wheel bearing replacement ($620+)

What if you ignore those squealing brakes?

The importance of your car’s brakes is obvious. The brake pads are the most frequently replaced brake part. But once these pads wear down, it’s not just a safety issue: the rest of your brake assembly wears down much quicker. If you don’t replace pads on time, you might also pay for:

  • New calipers ($305+)
  • New rotors ($276+)

As you can see, maintenance is an annoying but necessary expense. When you buy a car, make sure you budget ahead for its maintenance! It’s an investment that protects your valuable purchase.

Like Our Facebook Page for 50% Off – Round 2

THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED AS OF AUGUST, 31, 2015. STAY TUNED FOR MORE OFFERS!

Because it was so popular last time – we’re running the Facebook promo again! Please share with your friends and family. Coupon valid July 13 – August 31, 2015.

**Offer not valid for those who entered the last Facebook Page Promo. Please stay tuned for other discounts and promotions**

Automotive Service Excellence Certifications

ase_certified_logoFast Lube Plus is proud to announce the following team members as ASE Certified. Congrats Team!

Cary Fast Lube Plus

  • Tommy Pendergrass – ASE Certified Service Writer Technician
  • Lloyd Tew – ASE Certified Engine Repair Technician
  • Jeremy Harden – ASE Certified Brakes and Suspension Technician

Apex Fast Lube Plus

  • Daniel Taylor – ASE Certified Brakes Technician

Holly Springs Fast Lube Plus

  • Nate Moore – ASE Certified Brakes and Suspension Technician
  • BJ Pesta – ASE Certfied Master Technician

Garner Fast Lube Plus

  • Eddie Wilson – ASE Certified Maintenance and Light Repair Technician

Morrisville Fast Lube Plus

  • Dan Beavers – ASE Certified Brakes Technician

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What is ASE?

ASE, is short for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Since 1972 ASE, an independent non-profit organization, has worked to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.

What Does ASE Do?

ASE promotes excellence in automotive repair and service. over 300,000 Automotive Technician and Service Professionals hold ASE Certifications. ASE Certified Technicians work in every part of the automotive service industry. We certify the automotive technician and service professionals not the auto shops.

Why Does ASE Exist?

To protect the automotive service consumer, shop owner, and the automotive technician. We test and certify automotive professionals so that shop owners and service customers can better gauge a technicians level of expertise before contracting the technician’s services. We certify the automotive technician professional so they can offer tangible proof of their technical knowledge. ASE Certification testing means peace of mind for auto service managers, customers.

How Does ASE Certification Work?

In addition to passing an ASE Certification test, automotive technicians must have two years of on the job training or one year of on the job training and a two-year degree in automotive repair to qualify for certification.

The exams are not easy. Only two out of every three test-takers pass on their first attempt. To remain ASE certified professionals must be retest every five years to keep up with ever advancing automotive technology.

The New FastLubePlus.com

Fast Lube Plus is making a lot of changes to benefit our clients in 2015 and just the first of many is a new version of our website at FastLubePlus.com!

The new website was created to not only be easier to navigate and find the most important information to you, but was created to be fully mobile-ready!

We look forward to your feedback on the site and hope you continue to return to find out more about all we have in store for this year.

Let us say thanks for reading by offering you $10 off your next oil change in February. Simply print out the coupon below.

We’ll see you soon!

FLP_FEB2015COUPON

Back To School Car Safety

With summer ending and the start of school upon us, drivers need to do their part to keep kids safe as they walk and bike to school. Whether you are taking your kids to school or just driving through a school zone, you can do your part to keep kids safe.

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Follow the tips below to make sure you keep your children safe while walking and biking to school.

 

Simple Reminders for Drivers:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving

Reminder for your kids:

  • They should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
  • Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars
  • Make sure they always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them

With more vehicles on the roads, it’s important to get your ride checked out to meet the demands of increased traffic.

Source: http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-spotlight/back-to-school-safety/

When Do You Get an Oil Change?

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To calculate how often you should have your oil changed, you can consult your driver’s manual or visit checkyournumber.org.

Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for “severe” driving conditions.

 

 

But what constitutes “severe” conditions?

  • Drive on short trips of less than 5 miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures.
  • Drive in hot weather stop-and-go traffic.
  • Drive at low speeds of less than 50 miles per hour for long distances.
  • Drive on roads that are dusty, muddy or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface.
  • Tow a trailer, carrying a camper (if a pickup truck) or transport items on a roof rack or in a car-top carrier.

These conditions attract moisture and dust into the engine. If the engine isn’t run long enough to burn off the accumulated moisture, the acid compounds build up and adhere to engine parts, hamper operations and accelerate wear. This sludge can cause permanent engine damage, and negate the oil filter’s job of sifting contaminants, which reduces fuel economy, increases emissions and can potentially lead to engine failure.

Therefore, more frequent changes and part replacements can be necessary.

Is Your Car Engine Happy and Healthy?

If you’re like most car lovers, you take pride in keeping the outside of your car clean. Sure, looks are important, but what about what’s inside, under the hood? Should you be just as finicky about keeping your engine clean? You better believe it! Here’s why…

Over time, thick, gummy deposits form and settle throughout your engine. Unfortunately, deposits clog oil passages and restricts oil flow to vital engine parts” especially the upper valve train areas. A lack of lubrication in this area will increase engine wear and fuel consumption. Even worse, it decreases engine power. That’s why the motor oil you choose is so critical. Your engine needs protection against this kind of harmful build–up.

Even if you follow a routine service schedule, driving conditions are anything but routine. Your engine performance is constantly challenged by factors that contribute to deposit formation, including:

What Causes Engine Build-Up?

  • stop and go driving
  • prolonged periods of idling
  • short trips that don’t allow your engine time to warm up
  • towing trailers or other heavy loads
  • airborne dirt
  • fuel dilution
  • condensation
  • longer drain intervals

Industry experts say some modern engines are more prone to deposits than older engines. Here are some additional reasons:

1. Engine breathing
Water vapor and combustion gases that develop inside an engine must be purged, usually by burning in the cylinders. If the combustion gases and water vapor are not disposed of, deposits can form.*

2. Hot and cold spots
To warm engines quickly and reduce emissions, engineers in recent years have moved the catalytic converter closer to the cylinder head. In some cars, the converter has been integrated into the exhaust manifold. Both scenarios bring a major heat source closer to the engine, causing hot and cold spots. Hot spots bake oil causing deposits. Cold spots cause acid and deposits.*

3. Tighter tolerances
Engines now burn less oil because more accurate machining has created an extremely tight fit between the engine’s moving parts, such as piston rings, bearings and valves. The result: low oil lights don’t flash, and customers neglect oil changes.*

Do your engine a favor and keep it just as clean as you would your car’s exterior. You’ll see a big “thank you” in the form of increased performance and longer engine life.

* Automotive News April 18th, 2005.

Time to Fall Back Into Your Auto Maintenance Routine

(NUI) – As summer winds down and fall begins in earnest, auto-care experts say that getting your vehicle serviced for cold-weather driving should be high on your list of things to do.

Here are some tips from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) – the nonprofit group that certifies automotive technicians – on preparing your car for winter weather.

  • Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. Do this more often – every 3,000 miles or so – if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Get problems such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling and diminished power corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse.
  • Replace all dirty filters.
  • Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keep your gas tank filled to help prevent moisture from forming.
  • Have the cooling system flushed and refilled as recommended. Periodically check the level, condition and concentration of the coolant.
  • Have a certified auto technician check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses.
  • Make sure that the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • As part of routine battery care, scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces, then re-tighten all connections. If the battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Note that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data on some newer vehicles, so check your manual. Also, be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid; wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Examine the exhaust system for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes.
  • Examine the tires’ tread and look for uneven wearing and cupping. Also, check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Rotate the tires as recommended.
  • Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking them. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Stock your car with gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or cat litter, tire chains, a flashlight and a cell phone. Put a few “high energy” snacks in your glove box, too.

For more tips on preparing for winter driving, visit www.ase.com.