Texas Two Step: Two Steps, One Sticker

texastwostep
Printable bumper sticker from twostepsonesticker.com

 

Every Texas driver has heard the phrase “Check the date. Love your state” come through their radio at some point in their life. “Check the date. Love your state” refers to the vehicle registration program in Texas, but recently you may have heard something different on the news and radio programs: “Two Steps, One Sticker”.

“Two Steps, One Sticker”: What’s That?

During the 83rd legislative session, House Bill 2305 was passed paving the way for the State of Texas to stop issuing inspection stickers and transition to a one windshield sticker program. Starting on March 1, 2015, your vehicle registration sticker will serve as BOTH your registration and your inspection.

Alright, one less sticker to deal with. What do I need to do?

Step 1: March 1, 2015-February 29, 2016. Renew your registration if your vehicle has a current, passing inspection. If your inspection and registration both expire in the same month, your vehicle will need to pass inspection before the state will issue a new registration sticker.

Step 2: Renew your registration by one of these convenient methods.

  • Online
  • By Mail
  • In person at your county tax office

When you go to renew your registration, your inspection status will be verified electronically.

How much is this going to cost me?

Keeping with the two step theme, the inspection fee will be paid out in two steps.

Step 1: Pay the inspection station’s portion of the fee at the time of inspection.

Step 2: Pay the state’s portion of the fee at the time of registration.

You will see a handy breakdown of the fees on your registration renewal notice.

inspectionfeesbreakdown
Breakdown of the Inspection and Registration Fees shown on twostepsonesticker.com

 

This program sounds pretty simple to us, of course there is a whole list of questions that have come up from our customers. Fortunately, the website twostepsonesticker.com has a very nice FAQ section that should be able to answer any questions that drivers might think of.

Be sure to check out the handy calculator that will tell you if you should have your vehicle inspected before renewing your registration. Just fill in your dates and it tells you what you need to do!

whendoiinspect
Inspection Calculator from twostepsonesticker.com

 

Our service department is more than happy to answer any questions that you might have about this new program. Give them a call or swing by to have your vehicle inspected by our certified technicians.

 

The Vehicle Recall Process

When a vehicle recall is issued by the manufacturer people usually focus on what needs to be fixed on the vehicle and they forget to ask about the process. Once a recall has been issued, the manufacturer sends a letter to the affected customers. This letter has the red SAFETY RECALL NOTICE in the bold, red letters to make it stand out from your regular mail. It’s important to note that these recall letters are customer and vehicle identification number (VIN) specific.

If you have received one of these recall letters, please take your vehicle to your local certified dealership and have them complete the recall repairs as soon as possible.
If you have received one of these recall letters, please take your vehicle to your local certified dealership and have them complete the recall repairs as soon as possible.

 

Upon receipt of the letter, the customer should take their vehicle to their local, certified, dealership for repairs. Once the vehicle has been inspected, the service department will determine what parts are necessary to complete the recall repairs and then place a parts order.

Once the dealership receives the parts order, the service team will call the customer and make an appointment for the repairs to be made. At this point, it is important to remember to bring your car back to the service department. You would be surprised at how many people bring their vehicle in for service, order the parts for the repair and then never bring their vehicle back in for the actual repair. We try extremely hard to get all of our recall repair customers back to the service department to have their repair completed, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the customer to bring their vehicle back.

Depending on the type of recall, it could take as little as two hours or it could be as long as a day or two to complete the repair. Some recalls are quick and easy fixes for a skilled technician, but others are more in depth and require more attention.

Our Certified Service department works hard to complete recall repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Often the longest part of the recall repair process is waiting for the correct parts to come in. This General Motors graphic shows you exactly what the process is for the ignition switch recall, the largest of all of the current recalls.

 

ignition recall graphic

Now, we know what you are thinking.

“Didn’t they just say that a lot of people don’t come back for the parts they have ordered? So, why can’t you use those parts on my vehicle?”

The short answer is, we could but we don’t. The long answer is when we place an order for parts, that order is VIN specific and is still someone else’s parts order. If we used those parts on a different vehicle and that customer comes back the next day, we wouldn’t have their parts available for their repair. Also, the type of parts needed for the repair might be different from one VIN to the next. We’ve found that the best practice is to order each VIN its own parts package.

 

I didn’t get a letter in the mail. How do I know if my vehicle has a recall?

If you know your vehicle’s VIN, you can type it in to this form on our website. If you don’t have your VIN memorized, you can find it on your state vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, on the driver’s side dashboard at the bottom of the windshield. Your VIN is the unique identification for your vehicle and contains 17 alphanumeric characters Your VIN will not include the letter “i” or the letter “o”, but may include the number “1” or the number “0”.

The most important thing to remember is that recalls are safety issues that need immediate attention by a certified technician. Here at Chuck Fairbanks Chevrolet, our Service Department runs a search on each vehicle VIN that comes through the service drive. Whether you just dropped in for a quick oil change or you need major transmission work, our Service Advisors will let you know if your vehicle needs any recall repairs.

We would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to all of our customers who have been affected by the recall process. It’s always a little nerve wracking when your vehicle needs work, especially repairs that you weren’t expecting. Thank you again for your continued patience while we work through this process together.

If you have any questions about the recall process or questions about your specific vehicle, please give our Service Department a call at (972) 223-7611. Our Service Advisors are standing by and will be happy to answer any questions that you might have. For more information about vehicle recalls and other safety information, please visit these websites.

recalls.gm.com

www.nhtsa.gov

www.safercar.gov

3 Common Maintenance Mistakes

Our Certified Technicians  provide quality service at a reasonable price.
Our Certified Technicians provide quality service at a reasonable price.

Our vehicles do more for us than help run errands, move across the state, and shuttle the little league team to and from practices. They get us from point A to point B safely and don’t ask for too much in return. One thing your vehicle won’t directly ask you for, but still needs, is routine maintenance. Maintenance is an important piece of the vehicle ownership experience and should be taken seriously. Driver’s can lure themselves into a false sense of security when they make these simple maintenance mistakes. Don’t let your vehicle down! Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you!

 

  1. Skipping an Alignment

    Changing your tires is a great way to keep your vehicle running safely and efficiently, but if you skip the alignment process altogether it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back. A while back we did a short post on why you need an alignment, but to sum it up, it protects your tires from wearing out unevenly.

  2. Avoiding an Oil Change

    Oil changes are an important part of vehicle maintenance and keep your engine running in top shape. You vehicle’s engine breaks down oil as it is circulated and eventually the oil will stop providing the right amount of lubrication for your engine, causing your engine to wear out faster. Even though oil technology has made several advances in recent years, it’s still a best practice to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for regular oil changes.

  3. Skimping on a Quality Battery

    Replacing a dead battery on your vehicle is the least fun part to shop for in the parts department, but it is an important piece of equipment. With many of the vehicle’s gadgets running off the battery, it’s more important than ever to be sure that your battery is up to the task. An inexpensive battery may seem like a quick and easy fix at the time, but it could end up leading to costly repairs to the electrical system down the road.

Our Service department would be happy to take care of any of these maintenance requests for you. We have Certified Technicians that love to provide quality service at a reasonable price. Take a look at our Service Specials and give us a call (972) 223-7611. Our ALL-PRO team is ready to serve you!

State Inspection Requirements

You know you should get your car inspected every year, along with registering it with the state of Texas (Check Your Date! Love Your State!), but do you know what your mechanic is actually looking for? A vehicle inspection includes a complete safety check and ensures basic road worthiness.

In case you don’t know what your mechanic is looking for, here are the specific guidelines from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Texas Department of Public Safety lists these 20 point criteria that a passenger car must meet to pass its inspection test.

  1. Horn
  2. Windshield Wipers
  3. Mirror
  4. Steering
  5. Seat Belts
  6. Brakes (system)( Parking- beginning with 1960 models)
  7. Tires
  8. Wheel Assembly
  9. Exhaust System
  10. Exhaust Emission System (beginning with 1968 models)
  11. Beam Indicator (beginning with 1948 models)
  12. Tail Lamps (2); (1) if 1959 model or earlier
  13. Stop Lamps; (1) if 1959 model or earlier
  14. License Plate Lamp (1)
  15. Rear Red Reflectors (2)
  16. Turn Signal Lamps (beginning with 1960 models)
  17. Head Lamps (2)
  18. Motor, Serial, or Vehicle Identification Number
  19. Gas caps on vehicles 2-24 model years old
  20. Window Tint

Once your vehicle has passed inspection you will get a new inspection sticker put on your windshield. If your vehicle does not pass inspection you should have the items repaired and then take it back to the shop where it was previously inspected. You can take it back to the shop for a free re-test within 15 days of the original test date.

Additionally, vehicles in the following counties are required to have their emissions checked every year along with the regular inspection. Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Montgomery, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson and El Paso counties.

Counties that require Emissions Testing- per TX Dept. of Public Safety
Counties that require Emissions Testing- per TX Dept. of Public Safety

Our Service Department wanted to remind everyone that there is a 5 day grace period from when your inspection sticker expires! Your sticker will expire at the end of the month and you will have until the 5th of the next month to renew your sticker.

Don’t forget to bring your insurance card with you and try to avoid the first and the last parts of the month, those are the busiest times for inspections!

Visit our Service Department page and book your appointment online. Prefer a more personal touch? Give our guys a call at (972) 408-1989.

What Does This Light Mean?

One of the most popular phone calls that the service department handles usually references a light that has illuminated on the dashboard. Join us on Wednesdays as we cover the basic, and not so basic, lights on your dashboard, what they mean and what to do about them!

If you have been following us from the beginning, you know that we already covered the dreaded Tire Pressure light in this previous post, but stick around because today we are going to talk about the Brake System Warning Light.

Brake System Warning Light
Brake System Warning Light

The Brake System Warning Light looks like this image, an exclamation point inside of a circle with brackets around it. Like on the Tire Pressure light, the exclamation point is there to get your attention, so if you see this light, your brakes need your immediate attention.

 

 

Another type of Brake Warning Light
Another type of Brake Warning Light 

 

 

 

It can ALSO look like THIS image, an exclamation point inside of a circle with brackets around it AND the word BRAKE above or to the right of the symbol. Once again, this is meant to get your attention, please do not ignore these symbols.

That sounds a little dramatic, but your brakes aren’t a part of your vehicle that you want to ignore for too long! Our service manager, Nick Gajdica, explains:

“Most of the time people see this light and it ends up being a simple cause and an easy fix, like your vehicle is low on brake fluid. Sometimes though, customers will see this light and we find out that one of the hydraulic circuits has stopped working. Either way, seeing this light is definitely a reason to call your service advisor.”

This light can illuminate on your dashboard for a few reasons.

  • Your brake fluid is low and needs to be replenished. Your brake fluid is located in the master cylinder and is monitored by a sensor, when the brake fluid drops below an acceptable level, it will trigger the Brake Warning System Light.
  • The parking brake is on and needs to be released. If you have already disabled the parking brake, and you are STILL seeing the light and hear a chime, you have a deeper brake problem that should be looked over at your local certified service department.
  • One of the brake circuits has stopped working properly.Your vehicle’s brake system has two hydraulic circuits and for normal braking operation, both circuits need to be in working order. However, if one circuit were to suddenly STOP working, the remaining circuit would still work to stop the vehicle.

The owner’s manual, from a Chevy Silverado, suggests the following:

“Warning: The brake system might not be working properly if the brake system warning light is on. Driving with the brake system warning light can lead to a crash. If the light is still on after the vehicle has been pulled off the road and carefully stopped, have the vehicle towed for service.”

 Like we said, brake problems are no joke and can lead to serious injury if not taken care of right away. If you or someone you love is experiencing problems with their brakes, no matter what make or model, please give them the number to our Certified Service Department here at Chuck Fairbanks Chevrolet. The direct line to our Service Department is (805) 807-8752.

4 Things I’ll Never Ignore About My Brakes Again! A Cautionary Tale by Tammy DeYoung

ABS Warning Light
ABS Warning Light

Have you seen the TV commercial where a lady eats an unhealthy snack, then hits herself in the forehead and says, “I could’ve had a V-8!”

Instead of snack time, picture the waiting room of an auto repair shop.
Instead of that lady, picture me, smacking my forehead saying, “I could’ve saved BIG bucks!”

My dad always told me, “Have your car serviced at the first sign of trouble to avoid bigger trouble later.”  But I didn’t listen. Sigh.  I knew something  was wrong with my car, but I procrastinated finding out.  And now, instead of shopping for a new spring wardrobe for myself, I’m buying new shoes and ALL the pricey accessories for the braking system of my car.

It all came to a peak when my husband switched cars with me one day and called me a little upset.  “How long have the brakes been making that awful noise?”  he asked.  “This is really bad!”

“I haven’t heard any awful noises,”  I said, which was the truth!  They hadn’t been making any awful noises.  But there were other warning signs I had ignored and didn’t realize how serious it was.  I’m blessed to have a spouse that is understanding of my ignorance.

But, I don’t want you to suffer my fate!  I don’t want you to get that phone call from your spouse!  Mostly, I don’t want you giving up that to-die-for handbag because you were careless getting your car repaired!   So I’m on a mission to share what I learned the hard way!

What are those warning signs I ignored?

I asked Chuck Fairbanks Service Advisor, Blake, to explain to me what I should have done early to prevent such a big brake repair later.

“Listen to your car,” said Blake.  “Like a pet,  your car will talk to you and tell you what’s wrong!”

Hmmm….I like that analogy!  I have two dogs that definitely have “warning signals” telling me what they need!

“So, what should I listen for?”  I asked.

1.  Any type of squealing when applying pressure to your brakes.  There are wear indicators built onto the brake pads that will make noise when they need to be serviced.  Replacing the pads at this stage is much more economical.  Like I said, picture the V-8 commercial!  At this stage, you have tons of money leftover for new clothes!

2.  A pulsating or a shuttering in your brake pedal when applying pressure.  This means there is some type of imperfection in the brake rotators that need immediate attention.  So no, it doesn’t mean the tires need air or that the road is bumpy!  At this point, you can still buy plenty of spring dresses if you act quickly!

3.  Brake light warnings illuminated on your instrument panel!  When the light comes on, take your car in for service!  I confess, mine did say “ABS Tracking is Off” but I just thought it was some sort of switch and I would get around to it.  I have no idea how much I would have saved at this point, but I’m fairly sure I could have still bought a lovely new handbag.

4.  Grinding noises.  This is really really bad. This means your brakes are “metal on metal” which is never a good thing and results in more extensive damage and more expensive repairs.  A this point, the personal shopping spree is pretty much over.

Thankfully,  Chuck Fairbanks Chevrolet  has an excellent Service Center with expert care at a reasonable cost!  I’m still smacking myself in the head because my procrastination created a problem that never had to be.  If I would have just brought it to service when I first felt that pulsating, or saw the light come on, I’d be a fashionista right now!  Instead, I will just have to be content knowing my car has a shiny new braking system.

I have learned my lesson and will NEVER let it happen again!  But I leave you with one more piece of advice from Blake:
 “If you are driving and you hear a ‘ding! ding! ding! ding‘ sound in your car….and your seat belt is fastened……that means something is wrong and your car needs service!”

Good advice, Blake!  And thanks for taking care of my brakes!

Does My Vehicle Need an Alignment?

Evidence of a Bad Alignment
Evidence of a Bad Alignment

Do you ever feel like your vehicle is pulling a certain direction? You probably need to have your alignment checked. Did you buy new tires recently? Did they check your alignment? Are your tires uneven feeling? You guessed it, you need an alignment. A simple adjustment to the alignment of your vehicle can solve a multitude of problems!

Adjusting the alignment of your vehicle is needed when the parts that hold the wheels in place begin to wear out. When these parts wear out, your wheels are no long parallel to each other or completely flat against the road.

One of the ways your vehicle will let you know that it needs an alignment is how the tires are showing wear. If the outside part of your tire is getting worn down, but there is still plenty of tread in the middle, you might want to have your alignment checked. It also helps to check the passenger side tires against the driver side tires. All of your tires should show roughly the same amount of wear, if not, you need an alignment.

Another thing that you might have noticed, while you were driving, is that strange feeling that your vehicle is pulling to one side. When you feel like you have to really try to get the steering wheel to line the car up straight. If you feel like you are having to work hard at driving your car in a straight line, it’s a good idea to bring it into service and let the professionals take a look at it.

Whenever you purchase new tires, you should have your alignment checked to reap the full benefits of having brand new tires. New tires allow you to have better control of your vehicle, but if your alignment is off you lose this extra control.

If you feel like you are experiencing any of these things, swing by our service center and ask one of our service advisors to take a quick look. Our service advisors are always happy to answer any questions about the routine and not-so-routine maintenance of your vehicle.