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Locked Out of Your Car? Here’s What You Can Do.

There is nothing quite like that heart sinking feeling you get when you realize you have locked yourself out of your vehicle. While car lockouts are a minor inconvenience when you are at home, they can quickly turn into an emergency situation when you are in an unsafe area or if the situation involves kids or pets. Be sure that you and every driver in your family know these strategies to handle a vehicle lockout the right way.

Double Check the Locks

When the driver’s side door refuses to open, your first instinct is to panic. However, one of the most common mistakes that we run across is a person failing to realize that another door is unlocked. Be sure to check each door on the vehicle, and remember to try the trunk as well. Many trunks have open access into the backseat that allow you to open the door from the inside and retrieve your keys.

Assess Your Safety

Vehicle lockouts tend to happen when you are distracted or in an unfamiliar area. Once you know for sure that you cannot get into your car, your next step is to make sure that you are safe. Criminals are adept at recognizing a person in distress, so remain calm and make yourself less of a target. For instance, you may need to leave your shopping bags behind the counter of the retail store you just left, or you might need to sit inside of a restaurant while you wait for one of our certified auto repair technicians to arrive and unlock your car.

Contact a Loved One

After ensuring your safety, reach out to someone that you know to let them know where you are and what has happened. You may also ask your spouse or roommate if they have a spare key or know how to locate one for your vehicle. If not, simply knowing that someone knows where you are while you wait for help to arrive is reassuring during a stressful situation.

Avoid DIY Methods

When you are under duress, you may be tempted to try anything to get into your vehicle. However, the majority of modern car door locks are designed to be difficult to open. You can also do more harm than good by trying common DIY methods that involve coat hangers or window wedges, and doing one of these methods wrong can lead to a need for repairs at our auto service center. Instead, call for a professional to provide you with lockout assistance that preserves your vehicle.

Report Emergency Situations

For parents and pet owners, car lockouts can turn into life-threatening incidents. While you should also take steps to prevent locking kids in the car, accidents sometimes happen. If your car lockout involves a child and you believe that they are in danger, be sure to call your local emergency authorities and let our technicians know about the situation. This way, you can ensure that your pet or child is rescued as fast as possible.

When you realize your keys are locked inside of your car, don’t panic. Instead, keep the number to our tow and recovery company programmed into your phone so that you can quickly receive help with car lockouts at any time of day or night.</p

3 Debunked Myths About Car Towing

Towing and recovery companies play a vital role in helping to keep people safe during roadside emergencies. Unfortunately, there are common myths that continue to circulate among drivers, and believing these myths leaves you vulnerable during one of the most difficult moments that you can face as a driver. Since falling for one of these beliefs could cost you time, money, and even your vehicle or health, we decided to clear things up once and for all by sharing the truth about towing services.

You Never Know What You Get When You Call For a Tow

At some point, just about everyone has heard some horror story about a towing service gone wrong. Perhaps the tow truck never arrived, or a person was the victim of a scammer. While these situations do happen, you have the power to make sure that you know exactly with whom you are dealing when you call for roadside assistance. Ideally, you should establish a relationship with a reputable towing company before you experience a vehicle breakdown. This way, you can verify that the crew members follow the best practices for towing such as undergoing continuous training and using the latest techniques to increase safety during every tow.

All Tow Trucks Are the Same

Depending upon the type of vehicle that you own, you may not be able to call just any company that you find since there are different types of tow trucks. Many smaller companies only have one type of tow truck, which will not work for specialty vehicles such as RVs or exotic cars. Alternatively, you may require a heavy duty tow truck such as a rotator if you have an overturned tractor-trailer. To avoid wasting time and money by having the wrong truck show up at your location, always make sure that the tow service knows the specifics about your vehicle and emergency situation so that they can send out the appropriate truck. We keep a fleet of flat beds, traditional trucks, as well as heavy duty rotators so that we can save the day in any situation.

Towing Companies Only Help With Broken Down Vehicles

Towing is obviously what tow truck drivers are known for, but you can also rely upon their services for more than just hauling away a broken down vehicle. These companies that can quickly reach your location before anyone else, can provide assistance such as bringing gas to fill your tank or helping you get into a locked car when your keys are stuck inside. When our drivers arrive at your location, they quickly assess the situation to decide the right course of action. In many cases, you may be able to be safely back on the road driving your car within a matter of minutes.

Misinformation about towing services doesn’t help anyone. In fact, believing any of these myths leaves you open to mistakes that could make a bad situation worse. When you have a question about towing services, be sure to reach out to us with your concerns so that we can continue to ensure that everyone learns the truth about how tow truck drivers strive to do their best serving the community.

What Should You Do When Your Car Overheats?

Keeping up with your car’s routine maintenance goes a long way toward preventing this type of roadside emergency since a lack of coolant is one of the most common reasons for an engine to overheat. However, your car could also overheat due to unforeseen circumstances such as a broken hose. When you see the temperature gauge start to climb, be sure to take these steps to preserve your car and stay safe.

Pull Over Immediately

You should never drive an overheating car since the high temperatures or a lack of fluids could cause serious damage such as a cracked engine block. If you must drive a short distance to find a safe place to park, then turn off the air conditioner in your car to reduce the strain on the engine. You can then turn on the heater to help transfer heat away from the engine. Once you get to a safe parking spot, turn the engine off and make sure that you are visible to other vehicles.

Wait to Open Up the Hood

If your car’s hood has a feature that allows you to open the hood from the inside, then go ahead and pop it to help vent out the heat. If not, then you may need to wait for the engine to cool down before you can safely open up the hood. As you open the hood, watch out for steam or a blast of hot air that could cause a burn. You will also want to use caution when opening the radiator cap. If it feels hot to the touch, then it’s too soon to open it up.

Assess the Situation

Although a car repair company is the best place to get an accurate diagnosis of why your car overheated, you may be able to get a few clues as to what went wrong. Check under the car for leaks, which could indicate a ruptured hose or cracked reservoir. Alternatively, you may notice that a hose is disconnected when you check under the hood. In some instances, such as for a small leak, you may be able to add coolant and drive if your service center is only a short distance away. However, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and call for a tow. This is the only way to be sure that you do not cause further damage to the car.

Repair the Issue

A car doesn’t overheat unless there is a reason. If you acted fast and shut off the engine in time, then you may be fortunate enough to only have to arrange for minor repairs on your vehicle. Keep in mind that even older cars should not overheat if they are in proper condition. Always arrange for your car to be inspected at the auto service center after an overheating incident to make sure that the underlying cause is repaired.

An overheating engine can be a frightening thing to experience as you are driving down the road. Not only will the temperature gauge start to climb, but you may also see smoke or steam emanating from under the hood. By keeping a cool head and getting to a safe place where you can turn off the engine, you can manage the situation in a way that helps preserve your car from further damage.

3 Different Methods of Roadside Recovery

Roadside breakdowns range from simple problems such as running out of gas to full-scale emergencies that happen if a heavy duty truck or construction vehicle rolls over. While being stuck in a jam causes you to think of all kinds of worst-case scenarios, the truth is that heavy duty towing and recovery professionals know how to get you out of any sticky situation. In fact, these three different methods of roadside recovery are just a few of the options that might be selected from to preserve your property.

Wheel Lift Towing

This is one of the most frequently used types of towing, and you’ve likely seen cars rescued from the side of the road using this method. Wheel lift towing is exactly what it sounds like since the truck picks up the car by a set of its wheels. In the past, chains were wrapped around the axles of a vehicle for this method, which had to be done very carefully to prevent damage. Now, however, towing companies are equipped with trucks that have specialized hydraulic dolly systems that support the vehicle at the tires where damage is less likely to occur. Typically, a car is supported with the yoke on the drive tires. For instance, a front-wheel drive vehicle will be towed with the front tires off of the ground. The unique recovery system involved with this method makes it ideal for getting two-wheel drive vehicles out of tight spots without causing damage.

Flatbed Tow Trucks

At times, a specific type of vehicle or situation may call for extra care during the recovery process. For instance, an exotic car may have a low undercarriage that increases the risk of damage with a wheel lift tow. Alternatively, your vehicle may be all-wheel drive, and using the wheel lift method with this type of vehicle could cause damage to the transmission. Flatbed tow trucks have a specialized system that allows for a ramp or portion of the bed to lower so that the car can be loaded on to it using its own power or through winching. Once the vehicle is loaded on the flatbed truck, it is then secured and transported to the auto service center for repairs. Since cars towed in this manner never touch the ground, this is an ideal method for long distance tows or those over rough terrain that pose a hazard for the vehicle.

Heavy Duty Rotator Recovery

Large and oversized vehicles require special recovery methods that go beyond the basic tow. Heavy recovery equipment such as rotators are designed to manage tasks such as turning rolled over construction vehicles and semis upright. These heavy duty trucks also come with equipment that can help pull vehicles out of precarious situations such as dangling from a ledge or being stuck in deep mud.

Whether you have a family sedan refusing to start in a parking lot or a big rig rolled over on a bridge, you need to know that there is always a way to handle even the worst roadside situation. If you find yourself stuck on the road, then just give a few details about your vehicle and the circumstances surrounding your emergency so that our crew can put together a plan to get you back to safety.

When Do You Need Heavy Duty Towing and Recovery?

As the driver of a heavy duty vehicle, you have a responsibility to protect the safety of everyone on the road by following the laws and keeping your truck maintained. Yet, accidents happen, and you should always have a plan in place to quickly get your large or oversized vehicle out of dangerous circumstances so that everyone stays out of harm’s way. If any of these situations apply to you, then you likely need heavy duty towing and recovery services to get your vehicle to a qualified auto shop that can get it back to working conditions.

You Drive an Oversized Vehicle

When you first contact our towing company, one of the first things we ask is what type of vehicle requires assistance. While a light duty truck is fine for towing passenger cars and small vans, you need a truck with more horsepower for large vehicles such as big rigs, commuter buses and even large RVs. A heavy duty tow truck allows us to quickly load and transport vehicles of any size without causing damage.

You Require a Tractor Swap

At times, engines fail and you may be stuck on the side of the road with a trailer filled to the brim with cargo that must be delivered on time. Heavy duty towers can easily pick up a new tractor from your fleet and bring it to your driver at their location so that they can get back to their drive. Meanwhile, the tow driver can deliver the faulty tractor to your mechanic so that it can be put back into action as fast as possible.

You Are Dealing With a Rollover

Rollovers are life-threatening and embarrassing, and they unfortunately happen all the time in the trucking industry. While you should always practice proper rollover prevention techniques, you should also know how to handle this emergency. Following a rollover, make sure that everyone is okay, then reach out to a heavy duty tower that has equipment such as a rotator that can set the rig upright again.

You Must Act Fast to Clear a Public Roadway

Depending upon where and how you have a breakdown, you may have a legal and moral obligation to get the road clear as fast as possible. This means that you don’t have time to mess around with do-it-yourself techniques or a tow company that isn’t equipped with the right types of vehicles. When you arrange for heavy duty towing, you can know that help will arrive promptly and with the equipment required to clear the road.

You Get Stuck in a Precarious Position

Some tow jobs require delicate maneuvers to preserve the site of an accident as well as the vehicle. For instance, a runaway truck could break through a guardrail and dangle precariously over a ledge. Alternatively, construction vehicles frequently get stuck in on uneven ground or in mud and require a strong recovery truck to get them out.

Large vehicles stuck in dangerous situations require someone with an experienced hand and the right equipment to handle the situation with professionalism. Before you hop in the driver’s seat of your heavy duty vehicle, make sure that you know who to call in the event of an emergency.

What is Suspension Repair and Why Do You Need It?

Your vehicle is one of your most important assets, and regular maintenance helps to preserve its value and ensure your safety. The suspension system on your vehicle plays a major role in how your vehicle operates and handles, and regular inspections of its components should be a normal part of your car’s routine maintenance plans. Similar to most car problems, repairing an issue while it is small is the best way to avoid a potentially dangerous breakdown. To get you started, you can use this guide to understand more about the importance of suspension repair and how to know when you really need it.

Main Components of a Suspension System

Suspension systems are complex, and they contain many parts. However, there are six main components of the suspension system that connect your car’s body to the wheels and regulate the amount of bouncing that occurs as you drive down the road. The springs on the suspension system help to absorb energy that occurs from driving over bumps and potholes in the road. There are also the struts and shock absorbers, which help to counteract the oscillations of the spring. These components tend to need replacement the most often on a vehicle, and failing to repair them leads to dangerous issues with braking and handling due to improper weight transfers between the different sides of the car. The roll bars, ball joints and spindles are the final three main components, and each of these should be inspected regularly when you visit our auto repair company.

Signs of a Suspension Problem

When the suspension system is having problems, you may notice issues as you drive. For instance, your car may bottom out when you drive over minor bumps, or it will continue bouncing long after what you would expect when driving over a pothole. You may also notice the front end of your vehicle dipping downward when you brake, which indicates a potentially dangerous situation.

You may also be able to visibly sight a suspension problem. For instance, a car with a bad suspension component in only one area may be lower on that part of the vehicle. A quick way to test your shocks is to push down on each corner of your vehicle and see if it continues to bounce after you release your hand. If it does, then you may need to seek certified auto repair services to replace the shocks.

Tips to Preserve Your Vehicle’s Suspension System

You can do your part to preserve your vehicle’s suspension system by using caution as you drive over bumps and potholes. Maintaining the tires also helps to reduce the wear and tear on the suspension system since properly inflated tires help to balance your vehicle. Finally, be aware of your car’s recommendations for maintenance. While the springs should be checked after an accident, they typically last the life of a vehicle unless you drive on rough terrain. However, most shocks and struts need to be changed between 50,000 to 75,000 miles, if not sooner.

When you love a smooth ride, keeping the suspension system in proper condition is critical for eliminating unsafe movements of your vehicle during your drives. Always be alert for signs that a component may be going out so that we can give it a check and make the necessary recommendations for repairs that preserve your safety.

5 Questions You Should Ask Any Commercial Towing Service

Your commercial fleet is a valuable part of your business, and you need to know that you have a reliable towing crew available to help you out during times of need. While your business should already have strict standards in place regarding vehicle maintenance, all it takes is for a traffic accident or a faulty vehicle part to cause a member of your team to be stranded. When you first reach out to a commercial tower, you should ask these questions to make sure that they have the expertise and equipment necessary to handle any emergency.

How Do You Hire and Train Your Crew?

When your drivers call for a tow, you want to know that they are met by a professional that knows how to take care of a commercial vehicle. Although tow truck drivers are required by law to obtain a commercial driver’s license, the training practices can vary among different companies. We only hire highly qualified technicians who then undergo continuous training to maintain certification.

Do You Have the Equipment to Tow Oversized and Heavy Vehicles?

Your commercial fleet may contain large or heavy weight vehicles that require special equipment to tow properly. Make sure to find out if the company has heavy duty recovery trucks on their fleet such as a 40 ton rotator and 25 ton wrecker. This ensures that you can trust that the crew can get your commercial vehicles out of even the stickiest situations.

How Do You Care for Exotic and Valuable Vehicles?

Depending upon your line of business, your fleet may also include exotic vehicles. Since many exotic vehicles have low profiles, special care must be taken to protect the undercarriage of the vehicle during a tow. You should also be able to trust that your exotic vehicle will arrive at the destination without sustaining any more damage than what has already occurred. When you ask this question, you should hear that the company has flat bed tow trucks and an experienced crew that understands the value of the vehicle.

Do You Provide 24-Hour Service?

When your business runs around the clock, you never know when trouble may hit. Every driver on your team should have a way to contact the tow service any time of the day or night. This not only protects the safety of your drivers, but it also means that you can get to work on repairing your vehicle faster than if you had to let it sit overnight.

What Happens After I Arrange for a Tow?

A reputable tow company will instantly dispatch a member of their crew as soon as they get the details regarding your incident. However, you may also need to know that the services do not end after the vehicle is picked up. For instance, your company may be liable for cleaning up any hazardous materials that end up on the road during a rollover event. Find out if the tow company provides additional services such as hazmat cleanups and auto repairs to set up a full-service arrangement that keeps your business operations running smoothly.

When you manage a commercial fleet, you need to know that you have the right company ready to help tow vehicles in an emergency. Now that you know the right questions to ask, you can rest assured that roadside emergencies are addressed fast and with competence.

What A Smoking Engine Means

One of the most dreaded car problems is the discovery that smoke is coming from the engine. While seeing smoke is never a good sign, the issues that cause it can range from something as simple as a mild oil leak, to serious fuel combustion problems. If you have a smoking engine on your hands, then use this guide to determine the source of the problem and get it back to running properly again.

Consider the Location

The smoke from an engine may begin to come from under the hood, or you may see it flowing out of the tailpipe. In most cases, smoke coming from under the hood indicates a leak. For instance, oil or power steering fluid leaking onto the hot engine will cause it to smoke. Often, this will also create a noticeable burning odor that you may smell in the car’s cabin or when you stand outside of the vehicle. Smoke that comes from under the hood can also indicate that the engine is overheating, which is considered an automobile emergency.

Note the Color of the Smoke

When smoke flows out of the tailpipe, the color gives valuable clues as to what is causing the problem. For example, blue smoke is a sign that oil is mixing with fuel somewhere in the combustion chamber, which requires a trip to the service center for professional repair. While white smoke that goes away may just be condensation, you should be concerned if it lingers since this could mean that you have a blown head gasket or antifreeze leak in your car. Grey smoke could signal trouble with the transmission, and ignoring this could begin to affect your vehicle’s performance

Assess the Overall Functioning of the Vehicle

If you detect smoke coming from the engine, then you should also do a quick check of the general functioning of the vehicle. For example, oil leaks often start out slowly, and you may have already noticed oil spots on the ground where you park. Alternatively, your dashboard warning lights may indicate that fluids are low or that the temperature of the engine is beginning to ride. With transmission problems, you may find it hard to get your vehicle to change gears, or it may seem to lack power. Fuel mixture issues could cause problems at start up, or the engine may die when the car is idling. Take note of any other issues that you have noticed with your vehicle and mention them to the mechanic when you bring your car in for services.

Avoid Causing More Damage

Large amounts of smoke combined with other signs of a problem such as a rising temperature indicate that your car is at serious risk of catastrophic engine failure. Unfortunately, continuing to drive your vehicle when it is overheating could lead to a cracked engine head that requires a full replacement. Learn what to do when your car overheats or has another serious problem so that you can prevent more damage from occurring.

A smoking engine may cause you to fear that your vehicle is beyond repair, yet there are often many things that can be done to save your car if you address the issue early on. Always watch for signs that your car is struggling, and bring it in for an assessment as soon as you notice any type of smoke.

Auto Service Centers Vs. Dealerships

A quality auto technician is your first line of defense against major vehicle breakdowns, and you need to know that the company in charge of the repairs prioritizes your safety. When it comes to finding a place to perform auto maintenance and repairs, you may find yourself wondering what is the difference between a service center and a dealership. Although both places work on cars and trucks, understanding these differences helps you make the right choice for your auto care needs.

Training and Experience

You should always expect that the person who works on your car has achieved certification in the field of auto repair. However, the training and experience technicians receive varies according to their employment history, as well as the company’s standards. Dealerships are known for staffing mechanics that specialize in a specific make of car. While their expertise does have a few benefits, you can also expect higher labor costs to help cover their specialized training. At your local service center, technicians often have similar training and experience that comes with working with a variety of different vehicles, and some technicians start their own shops after gaining experience at a dealer.

Communication and Trust

When you take your car to a dealer, you are typically guided through the process of your auto repair by a service advisor who never actually works on your car. Having a go-between often makes it harder to understand exactly what type of work needs to be done, and some service advisors work on commission, which lowers your level of trust when they recommend a part. Auto service centers encourage direct communication with the technicians who work on your car that allows you to develop a personal relationship so that you always know exactly what your car needs.

Location and Hours

Car maintenance and repair needs often arise with little warning, which means that you may not want to drive to another city just to get the work done. Alternatively, you may not be able to get to the shop until the weekend. Dealers are known for only being open Monday through Friday, and you’ll often find that there are only a few in a large area. Your local service center, however, may offer weekend hours and be right up the road so that you can save time on your repairs.

Part Options and Prices

A dealership is required to offer only Original Equipment (OE) parts that adhere to the manufacturer’s standards for quality. Service centers are able to offer aftermarket parts that meet similar quality standards, yet these parts are usually less expensive compared to OE parts. Although some car enthusiasts or owners of specialty makes may need OE parts, you may prefer the cost savings offered by using aftermarket partson your car.

Once you understand the difference between a service center and a dealership, it becomes much easier to make the right choice for your car repairs. As you schedule your first repair, keep in mind that consistency allows you to develop the personal relationship that helps you get the most out of every auto service.

Common Brake Noises & How to Fix Them

When you press on the brakes, you trust that your car will stop. While regular brake maintenance and inspections go a long way toward keeping you and your passengers safe, braking systems can still experience problems between your visits to the auto service center. Keep your ears alert for these brake noises that indicate a need to fix the issue right away.

Listen For Thumping Sounds

People tend to forget that their car has brake drums on the back that can also wear out. When they are in good condition, you should not hear any noises coming from the rear brakes. However, drum brakes that are going out tend to make a thumping sound that comes from the back of your vehicle. When this happens, the drum may need to be replaced. Thumping sounds that come from the front of your vehicle could also indicate issues with the rotors there as well such as the accumulation of rust that prevents the brakes from working properly.

Check Out Scraping Sounds

At times, vehicles pick up rocks that can become lodged between the rotor and the backing plate. This is especially common if you drive on dirt roads or use an off-road vehicle on harsh terrain. Rocks stuck against the rotor create a scraping sound that is similar to a hard object being dragged against metal. Fortunately, this is usually a quick fix since certified auto repair mechanics can simply remove the rock and check to make sure that there is not any other damage.

Respond to Squeals

There are two main reasons why brakes squeal. If your brakes start squealing immediately after having them serviced, then new or inferior pads could cause this. Typically, new pads will stop squealing shortly after a few drives if they are made from quality materials. The other reason why brakes squeal is usually caused by the brake pads reaching the end of their life. Brake pads have wear indicators that cause them to squeal once they are worn down enough. When older brakes start to squeal, take the car in for ABS brake repair to replace the pads and protect the other parts of the braking system.

Address Grinding Noises

Grinding brakes are never good to hear. Usually, this means that the brake pads have worn down so far that the metal is now coming in contact with the rotors. When metal grinds on metal, the components quickly break down, and you could find yourself in an emergency situation where your car’s brakes stop working completely. At the first sound of grinding, immediately stop driving your vehicle, and arrange for a tow to the repair shop. Not only does this protect you from a serious accident, but you might be able to preserve the rotors if you address the issue fast enough.

A quality brake system should last for many miles before you have a problem. Yet, you must always be alert for signs of wear that indicate a developing brake issue that must be addressed. Now that you know these four warning sounds, be sure to listen carefully as you drive so that you can take action if a problem with the brakes arises.