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CarCommuter HacksOne-on-One

One-on-One with Jim Moore of AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Center

Jim Moore has been taking care of cars since he was 14 years old, pumping fuel and plugging tires at his local gas station. The 50-year-old has been manager of the AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Center in Fairfax, Va., for two years.

1. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in automobile maintenance? The biggest change I’ve seen in automotive maintenance is that every repair facility is doing it, most don’t have qualified, well trained technicians doing it properly.

2. What are the three easiest things a motorist can do to help himself keep his car healthy?

  • Change their oil regularly.
  • Keep their tires properly inflated.
  • Stay up on scheduled maintenance.

3. People get busy and forget to change their oil. How far can a car really go without an oil change? This all depends on driving habits and climate, which effect when oil’s viscosity breaks down. You also have to factor in whether or not your vehicle has any oil leaks. In general most automotive manufacturers recommend 5,000 to 10,000 miles in between oil changes. So there really is no set answer on how far you really can go. It just depends on the luck of the owner.

4. People sometimes over-inflate their tires thinking that’s a good thing. How can this harm your car? You never should over-inflate your tires. It puts less tread on the road and will affect the handling of the vehicle. It will also cause premature tire wear, costing the motorist more money in the long run. Under-inflation will also affect your tires negatively. It’s always best practice to set your tire pressure to what the vehicles manufacturer suggests which normally can be found in the door jamb or the owner’s manual.

5. How can motorists differentiate a legit mechanic from a rip-off artist? The best way to differentiate is to make sure you get a written estimate and written guarantee. We have so many tools today to check on any suggestions made by today’s mechanics. Almost everyone has a smart phone and can Google repairs and average costs to perform them. I also look at repair facilities like restaurants. (If the parking lot is full, usually the service is good and the food is good also. The same is usually true for trustworthy car-repair facilities.)

6. What’s the best advice you can give a new mechanic? The best advice I can give is to treat every car like it was your own. Take your time and do the job correctly the first time. Ask as many questions as necessary to do the job correctly. Read every bulletin and article you can to stay up-to-date with today’s changing automobiles. This can be a very rewarding field if you invest your time wisely in it.

7. What’s your favorite mobile app? Other than game apps and Amazon, I really enjoy my U-Connect app. It gives me up-to-date maintenance reminders and the state of health of my vehicle at any time I want. It’s also pretty cool that you can start your vehicle from anywhere, so it’s either warm or cool inside for you.

8. What’s in your car trunk? My trunk contains an emergency roadside kit and a cleaning kit. I try to keep it as simple and clean as possible. You never know when you may need to access your spare and nobody wants to be on the side of the road getting out bags of stuff just to change a tire.

9. We’ll give you three items to survive while stranded on I-95 during the next big blizzard. What are those three items and why? The best items in my opinion are a safety kit with road flares or safety warning sign, a warm blanket and some type of small nourishment, and water. And of course, a fully charged cell phone to call emergency roadside assistance and the 911 or 311.

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