539 SE 122nd Ave. Portland, OR. 97233 - M-F 8AM-5PM
Consumer Car Tips from One of Portland’s Car Repair Shops
See our full list click here: Alphabetized list of topics
Some of the topics you’ll find on this page include understanding the difference between using original factory parts versus aftermarket parts, how to determine if you need an auto repair or if it’s time to replace your vehicle altogether, and some cautionary words of advice about saving money with do-it-yourself maintenance. We encourage new and returning customers to feel confident about reaching out to us with any questions or concerns regarding car repairs at our shop.
Understanding the Three Basic Types of Auto Repair
Auto service and repairs generally fall into three basic categories and approaches:
- Preventative Maintenance – Routine preventative maintenance is done based on mileage or the duration of time in-between service appointments. This type of auto service prevents undue wear-and-tear and loss of performance and maximizes the life of your vehicle.
- Preemptive Auto Repairs – These are the type of auto repairs that are performed preemptively to replace parts that are worn or are showing signs of failure but haven’t failed entirely yet.
- Failed Part/Necessary Auto Repairs – These auto repairs are performed due to a failed part that’s no longer functioning, impacting your safety and your vehicle’s performance.
Most of us have finite sources of money, but infinite ways in which it can be spent – so we often have to establish some sort of priority as to which needs we address first.
Part failures fall into several categories, listed in descending order of priority below:
- Safety: The failed part may compromise your safety. This type of failure is always our highest priority.
- Damage contagious: The failed part may result in accelerated wear and damage to related parts, resulting in increased repair costs if neglected.
- Performance: It may result in decreased efficiency and/or performance.
- Aesthetics and Creature Comforts: It may simply be a nuisance and/or decrease either your comfort or the pleasure of your driving experience.
Some failures that are often thought of as a matter of mere inconvenience may at times become unsafe and put the driver and passengers directly in harm’s way. For instance, with most Toyotas, the engine isn't damaged if the timing belt breaks, and the car doesn't suddenly react in some unsafe manner. However, when a timing belt does break, your engine quits directly. If it breaks when you're in traffic, it may cause you to be hit by another vehicle if you're not able to coast out of their way. Or, alternatively, it could put you in a vulnerable position if it were to die at night in some remote area or in the wrong part of town.
When Should You Repair Your Car or Replace It?
One of the questions commonly asked is how to know when your vehicle should be repaired or replaced. We all need reliable transportation, so you must first ask yourself how cost-effective it would be to repair or replace your vehicle. You could calculate what the known repairs will cost per mile (assuming a reasonable number of miles you expect to continue driving it) to help you determine the repair’s cost-effectiveness. For example, a $2,500 auto repair amortized over 50,000 miles averages out to five cents per mile. One of our longtime customers recently remarked that in the 20+ years he’d owned his vehicle, his monthly maintenance and repair costs have averaged $40 – that’s cheaper than most monthly smartphone plans these days!
Has your vehicle begun to feel like a money pit? While it may feel that way over time, you should look at it in terms of what’s already been addressed and what won’t need to be again. For example, if your vehicle needs an engine overhaul, you’ll get the benefit of having a practically-new engine after the repair. If you choose to replace it with a used vehicle, you can’t say the same. You should never hold past repairs against your vehicle. Instead, you should think of them as an investment. In some cases, we’ve found that it can be justifiable to repair your vehicle even when the auto repair costs rival your vehicle’s resale value. However, if our car mechanics truly feel it’s time for you to disconnect and get a replacement vehicle, we won’t hesitate to advise you accordingly. Here are some expanded thoughts on the subject of repairing or replacing your vehicle: Expanded discussion: Keep and Repair or Replace.
Toyota Parts vs. Aftermarket Parts at Car Repair Shops
Because we firmly believe in the quality of Toyota parts, our biggest auto parts supplier is the Toyota dealership. Our next biggest source of parts are companies that sell us the same parts that were made by the original Toyota parts suppliers. We’ve found that many aftermarket (not original) suppliers tend to advertise a “lifetime warranty” on their products. Unfortunately, this usually has little to do with the quality of their products and is more about marketing. Sometimes, those lifetime warranties require you to jump over so many hurdles that it isn’t worth pursuing the repeat repairs and replacements. As a general rule of thumb, we encourage OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Toyota parts instead of aftermarket parts. Using these high-quality parts allows us to provide a 3-year/36k-mile warranty, which is 3-times the 1-year warranty that Toyota and Lexus offer.
Saving Money: A Cautionary Tale for Do-It-Yourselfers
We understand that it may be tempting to save money and attempt auto repairs on your own instead of visiting our car repair shop in Portland. While do-it-yourself auto repairs were commonplace in the past, today’s sophisticated auto technology makes it more difficult unless you have access to advanced diagnostic tools and equipment. Please take a moment to read our cautionary tale for do-it-yourselfers.
ASE Certified Independent Toyota, Lexus & Scion automotive service and repair specialists serving PDX, Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Clackamas, Oregon City, Fairview, Gladstone, Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Troutdale.