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The Car Repairs You Can Do Yourself


Maintaining a car can sometimes be expensive. According to data collected by mechanics, the cost of maintaining a car over the course of its ten-year life ranges between a modest $5,500 for a Toyota to a staggering $17,800 for a BMW. Many car owners, however, don’t realize there’s often no need to spend high mechanic charges; there are many repairs that they can quite happily handle themselves, avoiding high labor costs in the process.


The following are some of the repair work we at Citi Auto Group feel many of our customers are able to do themselves, without the help of a mechanic.


Repair A Chipped Windshield

There’s nothing more annoying than driving along, only to hear that characteristic “click” noise as the vehicle in front of you chips up a stone which strikes your windshield. A chipped windshield is a liability. That chip can soon develop into a crack which means replacing the windshield itself, and that can be quite costly.


Most people automatically go to one of those windshield repair companies; you know, the ones that say that the chip in your windscreen needs fixing right now, all paid for by your insurer. There’s only one problem with this; once your insurance company gets charged by the repair company, they may increase your premium, meaning that you could end up paying more indirectly than you would have if you’d just gone to the windshield repair company without the insurance company involved.


The good news is that you can buy and use your own windshield repair kit for under $15. Some kits cost under $10, which is a lot less than you’d pay if you went to a window repair company. The kits themselves are pretty self-explanatory. They come with a pin to dig out any loose glass, as well as a pump which pushes resin into the crack, forming a seamless repair. The whole process takes less than an hour, and before you know it, your windshield is back to normal.


Replace Your Air Filter

Many garages will suggest having your air filter replacing when you have the car in for an oil change. Drivers think that this is a complicated process, but all it usually involves is opening up the hood, finding the filter, taking out the old one and putting in a new one. No specialist skills required, usually all you need is a pair of pliers.


If you do go have a mechanic replace it, you can often pay well over $100, but if you do it yourself, the labor is free and the parts from a retailer usually costs around $25, depending on the manufacturer. To access the old air filter and replace it, all you need to do is open the hood, unscrew a few bolts, take out the old filter and replace it with the new one. The whole process is usually over in around 15 minutes, and pictures showing where the filter is located are usually in the manual, or you can easily find them online.


Change The Spark Plugs

If you’ve got a new car, it’s likely that you may never have to replace the spark plugs. If, however, you drive an older vehicle and it’s approaching the 100,000-mile mark, that would be a good time to replace them. If you go down the traditional maintenance shop route, this is something which can cost hundreds of dollars.


While changing the spark plugs might sound a little daunting, it’s not very hard to do, it’s actually surprisingly easy, and pretty much anyone who can handle a wrench can do it. To perform this repair, you’ll need a special tool called a spark plug wrench. Although this tool will last you a lifetime, it’s also relatively inexpensive - around $10 for a basic one. Spark plugs themselves are also quite cheap; a non-racing set shouldn’t set you back more than $30. Instructions are easy to follow, and readily available on the internet. Just make sure you replace them one at a time, so you don’t get the wires in the wrong sequence. So, if you replace the plugs yourself, you can expect to save a good amount of money.


Replace The Battery

Got a dead battery? There’s no need to call out your mechanic, and using your road service plan is fine if all you need is to get the car Jump started. Batteries usually last between four and six years, so there’s a good chance that at some point, yours will stop working and you’ll need to replace it. Service centers and the road service companies charge often charge as much as $200 to replace a battery, but given that batteries themselves are often only cost around $100 or so, you may be paying as much as $100, or more, for a service you could quite easily do yourself.


You’ll need a few tools to perform the replacement, which you probably already have. First, you’ll need the appropriate wrenches for undoing the mounting bolts. And secondly - and perhaps most importantly - you’ll need to be careful about the order in which you disconnect the cables running to the battery. You must remove the black, negative cable first when taking the battery out. And you must replace the same cable last when installing the new battery. If you don’t, you risk shorting out the electrics in your car.


Install New Brake Pads

If your brake pads have worn out, you’ll hear a whining or scraping sound every time you depress the brake pedal. Driving with worn brake pads will eventually cause wear to the brake rotor, something which is much more expensive to replace.


To replace worn brake pads, you’ll need a jack, some jack stands, a wheel lug wrench, a set of basic wrenches and some pliers. You should always replace both front or rear pads at the same time. First, jack up the car and place jack stands underneath it to prevent it from coming down on you. Then take one wheel off, pull out the caliper, remove the worn pads and replace them with the new ones. Then you replace the caliper, making sure that it’s connected to the mounting hardware correctly. Then repeat the process for the other front or back wheel.


A mechanic would usually charge around $250 or more for this job. However, new brake pads only cost around $30 - $50, meaning that you could easily save more than $200 if you do the work yourself. Your new pads should last about 50,000 miles, depending on how much hard braking you do.


We hope you find this information helpful, and that you can save money maintaining your new Citi Auto Group car.


The Importance of Buying an Extended Warranty

The Importance of Buying an Extended Warranty with your Used Car Purchase

Planning to buy your next vehicle from a used car dealership? You’re not alone; around 41 million used vehicles were purchased in the United States in 2016.

Buying from used car dealerships is continually popular for a number of reasons, not the least because it’s a terrific way to save money. We all know many new vehicles are overpriced, and simply don’t appeal to the countless drivers who just want a solid, reliable car without the added features or gizmos inflating the cost.


Purchasing through used car dealerships is also far more reliable and secure than buying from a private individual, with regulations in place to protect consumers. On top of this, their dealers are well-trained, knowledgeable, and will certainly let you take a test drive before you finalize a purchase.


Still, one big question you might have about buying a used car from a dealership regards your warranty. Many dealers provide one of several types of standard warranties, varying from partial to full, with or without a co-pay, and within a specific number of months or miles, although this may not offer much coverage in itself. An extended warranty, though, may be available at an additional cost. If so, it is usually well worth choosing one of these to give you assurance that you won’t be faced with unexpected high repair costs during the term of the warranty.


What is an Extended Warranty?

An extended warranty (also often known as a service contract) is basically an insurance policy on your used car. Investing in one will provide you with more peace of mind and reassurance in the event of future problems. 


The money you spend on your used car is invaluable, and you never know what’s around the next corner. The thought of a breakdown in the middle of a busy highway or a faulty transmission as you’re heading to an important meeting is enough to inspire dread in even the most experienced driver. Not everyone can find the money for a repair or new parts on the spot, especially with other responsibilities and expenses devouring your income.


Even if you buy the least expensive vehicle available at the dealership, you should discuss the possibilities of buying an extended warranty for your car. Here are some of the key benefits.


Better Coverage Overall

Most reliable used car dealers will give you some type of a warranty on your purchase anyway, but an extended one brings greater protection overall. Should your vehicle experience any mechanical faults, your standard warranty may only cover a small amount of the cost, leaving you to foot the rest of the bill. At times, this is simply impossible, and if you depend on your car every single day, your lifestyle could undergo drastic changes.


An extended warranty will normally provide you with much more coverage, and for a longer time than the dealer’s warranty that comes with the car. As a result, you’ll have more money to focus on other areas of your life, or to put aside for an upgrade on future vehicles.


Your Contract May be Transferable

Depending on the provider you choose, your extended contract may even have a lifespan greater than the amount of time you expect to own your car. Perhaps you always buy used cars rather than new ones, or you’ve simply invested in a second-hand vehicle to save money until you can afford to upgrade. Either way, you might only expect to have this one for a number of months before moving on to another model. You may even be able to transfer your extended warranty to your next vehicle, if it hasn’t already expired. If you able, this can provide even greater peace of mind in years to come, and save you from having to invest in a second extended warranty (or service contract) on top of the car’s price. This could be a big advantage if you choose to invest in a used car at a low price to cover a short period of time (perhaps while you save).


Boost Your Car’s Resale Potential

Selling your used car can bring in some much-needed funds, especially towards your next model, but you can increase the value of the car with an extended warranty. Not only does this provide your buyer with the same reassurance and peace of mind you’ve enjoyed, it also demonstrates that their purchase has been well-maintained during your ownership. You can maximize this selling point by taking them on a test drive to show how well it still performs. An extended warranty may be ideal for potential buyers too, as they could be concerned about costs themselves, and this can help make your used car stand out from others on the market. 


Saving Money in the Long Term

You have certainly heard that old cliché about having to spend money to make money. Well, it’s certainly true here. Paying for your extended warranty may be an expense, but it may save you money in the long run. An insurance or service policy on any item, such as your phone or your computer, for example, can seem unnecessary until something goes wrong and you can’t afford a new one. Your extended warranty reduces the risk of finding yourself faced with an overwhelming bill in the unlikely event of a serious problem.


Discuss an extended warranty with your used-car dealer to find out your options. They may be able to offer you a special deal depending on the price, and provide you with real peace of mind to help you enjoy driving your new vehicle that little bit more. If you’re unsure how advantageous it will be on your specific car, don’t be afraid to ask, they’ll be only too happy to go over it with you in detail.


An extended warranty could make all the difference to your experience of driving and maintaining your used car. The initial expense far outweighs the potential costs of repairs or replacement parts, and may add to the value of your purchase in the future.



Tips for Getting A Good Deal On A Used Car

Tips for Getting A Good Deal On A Used Car

Buying pre-owned is an easy way to get the car you want at an affordable price. However, that doesn’t mean that every used car dealer is going to be giving you the best deal you can possibly get. Citi Auto Group knows that customers getting better deals works best in the long-term for both the dealer and the buyer. That’s why we’re going to take a look at how you make sure you’re always getting the right car for you, at the right price.


Do Your Research Ad Have Realistic Expectations

Some dealers and buyers might haggle over the price of a vehicle all day long. Sometimes, it’s worth looking at a different vehicle, or a different dealer. Sometimes, however, you might be expecting a price that’s unreasonably low. To get to a happy middle point, you have to do your research. Look at the inventory of the dealer in advance, and pick out a few cars you’re interested in. Find what you can reasonably expect them to cost in good condition based on how old they are. Don’t forget to look at the true cost of owning them. There are online reliability indexes and cost-to-own guides, such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds, that can help you see the ongoing costs of any car in terms of fuel prices, maintenance, repairs, and more.


Know Your Finance Options

Most car buyers don’t purchase a vehicle outright with cash. If you’re looking to finance your used car, it pays to know that there are a lot of different credit options out there. It’s worth being wary of dealers who don’t accept different credit options, as that can often limit you to those that work best for them, not best for you. At Citi Auto Group we will also offer you our own Buy Here Pay Here financing plan, and our online Loan Calculator can even give you the information you need up front to see if you’re able to get the financing plan that works for your budget.


Think Needs and Stick To Them

It’s easy to go with feelings when it comes to buying a car, like the aesthetics, the feel of the drive, the power under the hood. It gets people excited, but when they start acting on that excitement, they’re not always making the best decisions. Keep a level head, even when you’re behind the wheel of your dream car. Your dealer might very well see how much you enjoyed it and may try to convince you it’s the right vehicle for you, even if it isn’t. Take a step back, remind yourself of your budget, and what your real needs are, whether it’s efficiency, long-term cost, safety, features, size, or anything else. Come with a list of priorities and your dealer can use that to show you cars that better fit them.


Consider More Than Monthly Payments

The price of the car and how you finance it are the two areas of cost that you might find the most wiggle-room in. Every dealer and buyer is going to find room to negotiate. You don’t want to pay too much, but they don’t want to sell for too little, and that’s perfectly fine. However, remember to keep more than just the price of the car in mind. Think about the terms of the loan as well. Dealers will offer longer-term loans to make payments more affordable, and sometimes this is a valid option for a car that’s the right one for you. But you also need to consider whether you’re willing to be tied down to that car and that loan for that length of time.


Trade-In Your Old Auto

Using a trade-in to offset the price of a used car in good condition is a smart move in many cases, but it might be worth making it a separate matter. Some dealers offer great value on high-quality cars coming in to pay off the value of a new purchase. But it’s worth taking the time to look at your options. Research the value of the vehicle depending on mileage, condition, and features. Compare the prices offered by the dealer to selling it independently on the market.


Think Fees

There are some fees that you’re going to have to pay when you get a new car. However, nowadays, many dealers offer standard services on top of that. Some of these services are aimed at providing more value to the customer, but you might not believe that you have any need of them. If that’s the case, a dealer should be happy to take them off the table if they can’t convince you why they might be good for you. Then there are documentation fees by dealers who offer the services of registering your auto with the DMV. This can take some of the hassle off the buyer but if you’re willing to do it yourself, you might want to skip them.


Make Sure It’s the Car Right For You

It might feel right, it might be at the right price point, and it might have all the features you want. Regardless of how trustworthy a dealer is and how honest they are, there’s a chance both you and they have missed something. It is always worth asking to get a car checked by an ASE-certified technician or mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. Any little issues they find might end up costing you a lot in future repairs. If you do find something wrong with the car, you can get an estimate of the repair costs off the asking price, or the dealer might choose to get the car fixed on their dollar and make sure the vehicle is in perfect condition for you to buy.


At the end of the day, if you don’t think you’re getting a good deal, you should be willing to walk away. There are always other dealers providing good quality used cars. At Citi Auto Group, we prioritize fairness, service, and the happiness of the customer. Check out our Testimonial page and you will see what our customers say about us. Our goal is, and has always been, to make sure every customer gets the right car at the right price.


How to check out a used car before buying it

Are you thinking about buying a pre-owned car? If so you need to make sure that you check it thoroughly and don’t end up with a vehicle that has serious issues that you’ll need to repair. There’s no reason to end up with a car that you are unhappy with when buying a used car if you complete all the right checks.

There’s a key point to remember here, and that’s to make sure that you test-drive the vehicle. It’s crucial that you get a feel for the car on the road and make sure there’s no issue driving it. The vehicle might look great, but until you actually take it out for a spin, you can’t know for sure. So, let’s start by thinking about the signs to watch out for during the drive. 

The Straight Line

You need to make sure that when you drive the car, it’s not veering to the left or right. If it is, this usually means there’s an issue with the wheel alignment that needs repairing. You don’t want to buy a car with this issue. It makes it more dangerous to drive and may use more energy because the wheels will be constantly pushed to maintain that straight line.

Stiff and Clunky

If you’re not buying an automatic check the gear shift and make sure that it moves naturally between the gears. If it sticks or you have difficulty getting it into one of the gears, this could mean there is an issue, and usually, a transmission overhaul will be needed. You certainly want to avoid that kind of repair when you are buying a pre-owned car.

Smells and Sounds

Trust your senses. The easiest way to make sure you’re buying a good car is to listen out for any sounds when driving that could mean there is a problem with the vehicle. Grinding and grating could be pointing to an oil issue in the engine. While a whistling noise usually means that there is a hole in the windshield. If you notice any issues like this, be sure to ask the dealer or owner to explain them before buying the car.

Now that you’ve tested the car on the road, you need to have a look around it and make sure there aren’t any red lights that shouldn’t be ignored.

New Parts

Have parts like the shift and pedals been replaced? Do they look a different age compared with the rest of the car? If they do, this is usually a sign that the car has seen a lot of wear and tear. Fast drivers usually eventually have to replace these parts on their car. You might want to be wary of buying a vehicle that has been through this type of renovation. Be sure to look for areas of the bodywork that look slightly different to the rest of the car. This is usually evidence that the vehicle has been fixed after an accident.

Check the Mileage

Does the mileage look peculiar? If you’re buying an older car, and it’s not a classic, the mileage should be high, pushing close to, or over, a hundred thousand. If it isn’t and you think the mileage is far too low, make sure to ask the owner for the paperwork. Or, you can use the VIN number to run your own check through CarFax, or one of the other sources that are available online. We at Citi Auto Group provide a free CarFax report with every car we sell.

Get the Car Level

If you’re buying from a private owner, the car might be parked on a driveway or a slope. This is a great way for sellers to hide parts of the car underneath that they don’t want you to see. Make sure that they have parked it level before you check around it. This way you’ll be able to see if any areas of the car are sagging or if there is an issue with the wheels. 

Look A Little Closer

You can always find evidence of work done to a car if you look close enough. Get up close to the paint work and you might see lines where scratches and dents have been painted over. Be sure to run your fingers over the edges of the car door. If it feels rough, this could be a sign that masking tape has been used there recently for a paint job.

Trunk in Good Condition?

If it is, there should not be any signs of wear or tear and be sure to look for areas of water damage. Any signs of water damage probably means that there is a hole somewhere in the bodywork of the car. On the other hand, if the trunk is in good condition that usually means the car has been well looked after, and you have nothing to worry about.

Can You See Under the Car?

Ideally, you should look under the car before buying it, inspecting it thoroughly. This is the only foolproof way to make sure that there aren’t any issues with the exhaust, fuel leaks or hidden damage. Any black spots on the exhaust may be a sign of leaking. If you can’t get under the car at least ask them to move it from where it’s been sitting. Usually, you’ll find that a car with an issue like an oil leak, leaves marks on the driveway or street. If you see any marks like this, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t buy the car. This is one of the main advantages of buying a used car from a dealer. They’ll have the equipment you need to see under it.

Modern Car Tips

Most cars manufactured after 2000 have technology that monitors many of the vehicles functions. So, when you turn the car on, and after it has idled for a while, pay close attention to the gauges and indicator lights. If there are any issues that need to be taken care of, the appropriate indicator light(s) should come on to let you know there is something that needs attention.

We hope this helps you make the right choice when you’re buying a used car, ensuring it is in great condition. If you have any questions, or want to take any of our cars out for a test drive, The friendly, knowledgeable staff at Citi Auto Group is always ready to help you find the right car for you.


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