Rochester – No one wants to have their day on the road interrupted with their vehicle broken down, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Breakdown preparation is recommended for motorists in Minnesota and Rochester as the first heat wave of summer hits the state.
Referrals come from all outlets in the auto repair industry, as many are experiencing a backlog of appointments and may not be able to meet routine repair needs as soon as people would like.
Ben Tilson Jr., one of three Tilsons owned by their auto shop, said air conditioning service was the most common repair need at Tilson this month.
“A lot of times what happens this time of year is the air conditioning compressors, they can seize up during the winter and there’s a clutch that kicks in and it can seize up after not having been used. Or their Freon has escaped. Maybe the AC was low on freon from the summer before, so make sure you don’t wait until the first 80-degree day to get it fixed,” Tilson Jr said.
Waiting until the last minute for air conditioning repair is a major reason why Tilson and many other auto repair shops fall behind on repair time availability.
For those who aren’t in dire straits to get their air conditioner repaired right away, there are a few things motorists can do for their vehicle without having to take it to the repair shop.
To start, fill the tires with air and make sure the PSI levels are not filling up to the max. “Every vehicle has a recommended amount of air that they should set their tire PSI levels to. Most people assume they should fill to the max as their tire says, but there is a recommended safe level listed. inside the driver’s door which gives the correct level,” said Tilson Jr.
Even with high gas prices everywhere, Tilson Jr. recommends keeping spare gas in vehicles as an essential in the event of a breakdown. Another suggestion of what motorists can do without going to the mechanic is to top up engine oil before taking trips longer than their usual daily commute.
“Play it loose when you take care of your car’s maintenance. A lot of it is just crossing your T’s, dotting your I’s with your car to make sure all your bases are crossed because heat can do a lot of crazy things to a car and that’s why we’re busier when it hot,” Tilson Jr. said.
Crossing the Ts and dots over the Is in vehicle maintenance can always keep motorists ahead of a possible breakdown. But if a breakdown does eventually occur, motorists will still need to keep in mind what they need to do to get their vehicle off the side of the road.
John Chesney, operations manager of Virgil’s Auto Repair and Towing, said motorists should know the basics when it comes to getting their vehicle off the road.
“After finding a safe place, contact a nearby facility that can help. If you have towing coverage, you call AAA or an insurance provider, and they’ll find you a towing company that works with your insurance. Just be able to provide your information when you call a towing company so they can help you identify vehicles when they arrive,” Chesney said.
Once the vehicle is taken off the road, the waiting period of its time to be repaired and returned to owners can differentiate depending on the towing company and auto repair shop it is taken to. Where Virgil is both a towing and repair shop, their customers experience less wait time than other locations, as Chesney explained.
“Usually in a small repair shop like ours, we work on all makes and models and give priority service to people on the outside or people who break down on the side of the road. We try to get it same day or day after outage just for convenience,” Chesney said.
All factors considered, Tilson Jr. and Chesney recommend that motorists always stock their vehicles with emergency supplies. Supplies recommended by Tilson Jr. and Chesney include water, jumper cables, tire jack, flashlight, motor oil, first aid kit and reflective vests.