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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQS


How do I know when my car

needs an alignment?

The first thing we need to discuss is road crown. Look at a typical street and you may notice that the center of the road is higher than the sides.  This is done on purpose so the water runs off the road into the sewers. Which means that a well aligned vehicle may still drift to follow the pull of an uneven road.

Signs that your vehicle may need an alignment:

Steering Wheel Off Center.
When your vehicle is driving straight, the wheel appears to be turning left or right

The vehicle pulls to one side or the other constantly.
while driving on a crowned road or a flat one. If you let go of the wheel (not recommended, obviously), your vehicle would change lanes and not even bother to use the turn signal.  Typically the vehicle will want to go the same direction all the time, left or right.

Uneven Tire Wear. 
This is the most common reason that we recommend an alignment.  The tire(s) have tread on one edge and are bald on the other, or even bald on both sides.  This is a sign that the wheel and tire are off just enough that it is literally dragging the tire sideways as you drive.

What you need to know:

Suspension Repairs must be done First. 
Many times your vehicle will need an alignment because something is wrong.  Maybe someone has hit a curb and bent something in the suspension or there are loose/worn suspension parts.  It is not recommended to align a vehicle that needs suspension parts to be replaced, those repairs must be made first.  

Sometimes we need more time. 
All alignment shops will give you a starting price.  If your suspension parts are rusted and need to be heated up with a torch to get them loosened enough to adjust them properly, it then causes us to spend more time on your vehicle than is originally planned upon.  We at Jammin' J Automotive strive to be as straight forward and open as possible with delays, but they do happen and sometimes those delays may cause an increase in cost to you.  We also try to let you know in advance whenever it is possible.

What is that Vibration that I

Feel While Driving?

Typically a vibration is caused by something that rotates on the vehicle like a tire and/or wheel that is not right.  Very commonly we get customers who request an alignment for a vibration.

 Vibration is normally caused when something is out of balance, out of round, bent or some other physical damage.

Where do you feel the vibration? 
Sometimes it is really hard to tell. If you feel it in the steering wheel, it is most likely in the front and if you feel it in your seat, it is likely in the rear of the vehicle. This is how race car drivers relay information to their crew chief about how their car is handling as well.

When do you feel the vibration?  All speeds/On the Highway Only/When at idle/stop. 
A bad tire is usually felt at 30, 40, 45 mph, but may smooth out on the highway at high speeds where the egg shape of the tire gets smoothed out by the high rate of centrifical force.  A tire that is out of balance will usually be felt at 55- 60 mph only and will go away at higher speeds.  When your vibration is happening at a stop and your wheels are not longer moving, it might still be coming from something that is rotating:  your engine. 

What you need to know

We can only help you with this problem when we have a chance to fully examine your vehicle.  On the highway, on the street and up on the rack.  There are a lot of parts involved in the rotation of your wheels on the pavement and they all have to be working together to create a smooth ride.  Yes, sometimes, a quick visual inspection can spy a bad tire, but sometimes only removal of the tire and a spin on the balancer can reveal a bent wheel/rim. Schedule a time to drop off the vehicle and give us every bit of information that you can about what you are experiencing and when you feel the vibration the most so that we can be sure to address it in an efficient manner.  It is Jammin' J Automotive's policy to give you an up front price for diagnosis and to let you know at the end of that time if we need more time to find something more complicated or recommend repairs.

Why Can't I Supply My Own

Parts that I Bought Cheaper 

From the Parts Store?

We sometimes get requests from customers to supply their own parts from their local parts store. It is not our policy to use those parts and only charge for the labor to install them.

Sometimes you get what you pay for.
Many national parts distributors will sell very inexpensive repair parts for the do-it-yourself crowd.  We are totally in favor of DIY, in fact, we commonly repair or create things ourselves that others may need to call someone else to do. However, those retail stores want you to come in and buy your parts from them, but their commitment level is not very high to the walk-in customer who is looking for the cheapest fix.

We have a 2 year/24,000 mile warranty.  
We take this very seriously. This covers not only our efforts to pinpoint the problem as efficiently as possible, but for the problem to stay fixed. We aren't lying when we say we will make it right at our expense.  This extends to the parts as well.  We don't install substandard parts just to save a little money at the risk putting your vehicle or your family's safety in jeopardy. 

Supplied parts can cause more trouble than you save. 
If we have a vehicle ready to repair and have to wait for you to get the part and it isn't right and then we have to wait again for the right part, we will have to charge you more time. When we order a part from a supplier, we are talking to a wholesale parts person who deals with our vehicles and parts all day every day, not just anyone who can work a cash register. It leads to less mistakes when choosing a part and a better knowledge of what other parts may be affected during this repair.

What you need to know

The bottom line is this: when we supply the parts, we are also taking responsibility for the parts.  Our relationship with our suppliers helps to support the warranty.  When a brand new part fails (and they do sometimes), our supplier will supply us with a new part free of charge and in many cases, pay our labor to do the repair over. This allows us to pass along such a great warranty to you. If you supply the part, then we are put in the middle of a finger pointing match.  If the part was bad, we will need to charge you for the labor again.  Will your retail parts store warranty the part at no cost?  Maybe, but probably not.  They will question how the part was installed, who installed it, etc and attempt to find fault elsewhere to remove themselves from having any liability in the responsiblity of the cost to do a repair more than once. Not a situation that we want to be in and definitely not a situation that we want to put any of our customers into if it can be avoided.  We are small business owners, parents, and people, too. We know the value of every dollar that you spend with us.  Our goal is do what is right by you, and treat your car and your budget with respect.

 Why Won't My Car Start?

 This isn't as easy to figure out as it used to be.  In fact, we had a vehicle at our shop a few years ago that wouldn't start because the dome light was burned out in the interior of the car and for some reason it was on the same circuit as the ignition.  As with many other repairs, the more information that you can give us about the problem, the quicker we can get to the solution.

Do you hear the motor crankIng when turning the key? 
There is a motor that 'starts' your engine when you turn the key.  Knowing if it is making any noise or not can help pinpoint which direction we proceed.  If you do hear the noises, then most likely the problem is in the engine. If it is not making any noise, then the problem probably lies in the battery/charging/starting system.

Did you have any other symptoms or warning that this was going to happen? 
Paying attention to the regular behavior of your vehicle can help you to notice symptoms that things may not be going well.  When you come in for oil changes or tires, let us know if you notice anything unusual about your vehicle.  Are there lights on in the dashboard that you didn't notice before?  Many times, there will be warnings if you keep your eyes and ears open, but even if it happens without warning, that is also information we need to know to properly diagnose the real problem.

What you need to know

Your vehicle has a battery, cable, wires, starter, ignition system, various electronic controls and computers that all have to work correctly at the turn of your key (or push of your starting button). If one of them fails, it can cause others to fail as well. Proper diagnosis should not start with 'Let's replace the battery and see what happens' every time your car won't start. We have specially designed electronic diagnosis tools that plug in to your vehicle and test to see what is really going on.  Pay attention to your vehicle and get regular maintenance services done so hopefully, these things can be caught before you get stranded.

Hearing strange sounds from your car? Contact US