The Anatomy of a Car Repair

o2 sensor

While you do everything possible to keep your car maintained, up to date, and in good condition, life happens. So do unexpected repairs – your brake pads wear out, the battery dies, spark plugs corrode, or maybe your sensor needs replacing. But one of the most common reasons people bring in their vehicle is that it’s “making noises”.

What’s That Sound? This is often a question we get upon the first call for a car repair appointment. Recently, one of our regular customers brought in their older van to diagnose a “clicking sound” they had been hearing when they turned the steering wheel. We advised them to make an appointment or drop off the vehicle so that our trained mechanic could take a look, and listen, and properly diagnose the problem.

Steering Clear. Our technicians test drove the old model van and immediately recognized the familiar sound as a failing or broken CV (constant velocity) joint. Easily stated, a CV joint allows the front wheels to receive power to move. Your vehicle has a CV joint on each side to help control the steering. As they become worn over time, as in this particular case, they cause a clicking or grinding sound as the steering wheel is turned. This particular CV joint was so old and worn out that it had actually dry rotted and needed to be replaced. Your car is still drivable with a broken CV joint in many cases, but it can quickly become unsafe. This is why you need to call Norris at the first sound of trouble!

Back On The Road. We advised the customer of the repair, fixed the issue, and had them back up and safely running by the end of the day. They also inquired about any additional maintenance that we would recommend to safely keep their 182,000 mile van running for many more years. We looked at the make and model and the age of the vehicle, and advised them accordingly.

We’re happy to provide YOU with individualized maintenance tips, routine tune ups and repairs when those unexpected “noises” pop up. Give us a call today for routine maintenance, tune ups, oil changes or simply to ask “what’s that sound?” At Norris we’re here to get you back safely on the road, quickly, efficiently, and click free!

They’re Talking About Us

We love it when we read the reviews left for us. We have a 4.6 rating on Google, and 5 out of 5 on Facebook! Here are some of our favorites:

Last Thursday I took my car to Norris Automotive at 8 o’clock in the morning. Mike listened to the engine, brought it into the garage and a few minutes later diagnosed the problem – a bad water pump. He gave me an estimate and sent someone to drive me home. At 3:45 my car was ready and the final cost was actually less than the estimate. I couldn’t have had a better experience with a repair service.The thing that made it special was the consideration and respect shown to me by Mike and his employees. I’m an old person who sometimes finds herself condescended to, but not here. Thanks, Mike.

I was incredibly impressed with the service I received from Norris Automotive! I went there for an oil change and they didn’t try to up charge me or get me to buy anything I didn’t need. The gentlemen working there were very respectful and polite. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend going here – without a doubt! Give em a try you won’t be disappointed!! 5 Stars! – Victoria

The staff was super professional, polite, friendly, easy to talk to, and knowledgeable! Ryan answered my questions fully and did not rush me.
They made my appointment as smooth as possible and really catered to me having a great experience. 👍👏 The reminders and the follow-up are a nice touch, BTW. – PJ

Got an oil change and inspection done . They were fast and great. I get very cautious about taking my volkswagen anywhere, but can say I trust these guys hands down. Will be taking my car from here on out. Mind you that says a lot when there are 20+ shops within 10 miles of me and this shop is about 30 from me. – Paul

Thanks to Mike and Ryan for taking good care of our cars. The best service in town! – Norene

Norris Automotive is a wonderful place to go for all of your Auto needs. Iv’e recently moved to the area and was unsure where to have my BMW serviced. The personnel are extremely friendly, knowledgeable and honest. I was very impressed with the quality of service that I received. I was also very impressed with the mechanic who worked on my BMW. I will definitely use them for all my service needs. – Daryll

These workers are amazing. I have come in two times now with car problems and they are so kind and professional. Most recent time, I came in with an oil change problem, he didn’t even charge us for it. Great shop and would highly recommend. – Caitlin

We’d love for you to leave us a review, too! Go to Google, Facebook, or your favorite review platform, and tell us what you think!

Norris Saves the Day!

At Norris, we take pride in keeping your car running strong and helping you when problems arise. We especially love hearing stories like this one from a recent customer. While our technicians don’t really run around in superhero capes, sometimes they can help save the day.

Down And Out. One of our current customers had just picked up her kids from school when she stopped at a nearby store, tried to start her car, and it wouldn’t crank. Frustrated and with three kids in tow, she got a “jump start”, then headed to the local auto parts store hoping it was just a simple battery. Upon arriving she received dreaded news: “It’s not the battery. It’s the alternator”. It was almost closing time, at Norris, but she quickly picked up the phone and called anyway. After listening to her describe the problem in detail over the phone, the technicians told her to head their way.

Going Strong. Once she arrived at Norris – again, right at closing time – Ryan popped the hood of her van to take a look. After some quick diagnostic testing, he assured her it wasn’t the alternator after all (sigh of relief), simply a dying battery. Thinking she was going to need an appointment to come back, she was surprised when we had the battery in stock, installed and her car back up and running in less than ten minutes.

“With a jam packed schedule, dinner time, three kids and after a long day, I was so thankful for the honest professionals at Norris Automotive who actually took the time to listen to my problem, diagnose the issue and have my car going strong without giving me the run around. Thank you, Norris for saving the day (and evening)!”

We love our customers and are so happy to hear stories like this one. When it comes to your automobile needs, call Norris first for an honest opinion and experience that matters.

Fall Back on This Fall Checklist for Your Car

It’s fall, ya’ll, and with the falling leaves come some tasks that need to be done to keep your car in tip top condition.

Rain Check. If you haven’t changed your wiper blades lately, it may be time. Check for torn edges, cracks, stiff places, or corroded metal. Next time it rains, watch for steaks and listen for squeaks. Most wiper blades need to be changed every six to twelve months. Some folk opt to have their wiper blades changed at every oil change.

Kick the Tires. Read the manufacturer’s manual to find out the optimal tire pressure for winter. Look for worn spots. Measure the tread depth, too. If your tire tread is 2/32″ or less, you’re out of compliance with state law, but your tires are way beyond safe. If you regularly drive in rain, or if you anticipate a trip in the snow, you may need to replace your tires at 4/32″.

Fluid Notions. Pop open your hood, and check your fluids. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, washer fluid, coolant, and oil are your vehicle’s life blood. Make sure that your levels are good, and that you don’t have any leaks.

Power Level. Cold weather is hard on a battery. If your lights are shining dimly, or if you hear your car straining to start, you may have a battery issue.

Heat It Up. Before that first frosty morning, turn on your car’s heater to make sure that it’s doing it’s job.

Wax on. Wax off. Falling leaves can leave marks on your car’s finish. Give it a good wash and wax

Light Touch. With shorter days approaching, make sure that your lights are working. Shine your bright lights against a wall, and don’t forget to check them on ‘bright’. Check each signal light. When we do car inspections, vehicle owners are often surprised to find that they have lights that are not working.

Whether you have a trip to the mountains planned or your vehicle is spending a lot of time in the car line, it’s important to get your car or truck in shape during the fall. If you need help, let us know. We’re always here to make sure that your vehicle is running well, and in good condition for the health, safety, happiness, and comfort for you and your family.

Gasoline Taxes – Who Gets the Cash?

gas tax

If you’ve ever driven across the state lines to buy cheaper gas, you know about gasoline taxes. But did you know how much of your gasoline price goes to tax, and to what government entity it is paid? Here’s a breakdown.

Federal Tax. Every gallon of gasoline that you purchase includes a $0.183 excise tax that goes to the Federal government. If you have a Diesel engine, your pay $0.243 per gallon. This tax helps pay for road infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. There is also a $0.01 Federal tax for gasoline and Diesel that goes to the poorly named “LUST” fund, which stands for “Leaking Underground Storage Tank”. These taxes have not been raised since 1993, back when the average cost of gasoline was only $1.06!

State Tax. The average state tax varies, but is generally about 30 cents per gallon. North Carolina’s pump tax is currently $0.31 per gallon, with an additional .0025 inspection tax. North Carolina is among the states that has the same amount levied on gasoline and Diesel. The North Carolina Department of Revenue determines the tax rate on fuel, using a formula set by state law. Sometimes the tax rate changes mid year.

Revenue from North Carolina gasoline taxes is put into two separate funds. The “Highway Fund” is dedicated to maintenance and operation. In 2020, 71% of monies received went into this fund. The remainder goes to the “Highway Trust Fund”, to capitalize future highway projects. According to the NCDOT, the average driver pays gasoline tax that would pay for patching one pothole each year.

North Carolina charges more state tax on a gallon of gasoline than South Carolina or Virginia, so our state has more revenue that they can potentially use to keep our roads in good shape structurally and aesthetically. Our state gasoline tax has actually decreased slightly from previous years.

How to Pay Less Tax. The best way to pay less gasoline tax is to use less fuel! Carpooling and running errands strategically will help you drive less. Another way to reduce your fuel consumption is to make sure that your vehicle is running efficiently. And of course, that’s where Norris Automotive comes in! We help make sure that each part of your engine is it the best condition possible. That’s good for your vehicle, for the environment, and also – for your wallet!


Your Car’s Battery – A Start Up Guide

Most of us take our vehicles for granted. We turn the key or push a button, the engine starts, and then the car goes. Your car is a big investment, however, and it really does help to know a bit about the inner workings, starting with the battery, which turns chemical energy into electricity that gives power to various parts of your vehicle.

Battery Parts. The outside of a car battery is a plastic box with a red positive and a blue negative terminal. Inside are six cells, each holding sets of positive and negative metal plates called electrodes. The positive plates are covered in lead oxide and bring electrons in. The negative plates are covered in lead, and they release electrons. The plates rest in a chemical solution of 65% water, and 35% sulfuric acid.

Battery Works. To produce a charge, the negative plates in the battery react with the positive plates, and the electrolytes conduct electricity from one cell to another, until there are over 12 Volts of power ready to work.

Your car battery provides electricity to make lights high, seats to move, radios to sing, and air conditioners to cool. Its most important function, however, is to start the car! After the engine is started, the fuel system takes over and keeps it going.

Battery Recharge. The cool thing about the car battery is that once your car starts, it is recharged by the alternator, which sends electrons through the negative terminal, reverses the chemical reactions, and recharges the battery.

Dead Battery. There are several reasons that your car battery may die, but even with the best of care, your battery will eventually wear out. The rule of thumb is to get a new one every three years. Your mileage may vary.

At Norris Automotive, we understand batteries, and we can spot issues, tell you what to do to fix them, and how to avoid problems in the future. We can also tell you when your battery needs to be replaced.

If you’ve started to think your battery needs attention, stop by Norris Automotive. We’ll make sure that your battery is in tip top condition, ready to start your vehicle, and take you and your family wherever you want to go!

Play Another One for the Road Trip

It’s a fun fact that most of us do our best (meaning loudest) singing in the shower and in the car. Roadtripping is a great time to show off our vocal skills, or lack thereof. We were curious about the most popular tunes that people belt out on the highway, and found out that the good folks over at FinanceBuzz did a data analysis on 100 road trip playlists. Here are the top ten songs that they found.

Sweet Home Alabama
Don’t Stop Believin’
Mr. Brightside
Highway to Hell
Bohemian Rhapsody
Wake Me Up
More than a Feeling
Hotel California
All Right Now

Now everyone has their favorites, and this list is great, but we think it needs a little bit of country flair, so we’re adding two more:

Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker
Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts

We’d also remind you that the most important tune on your playlist should be a tuneUP for your car. Bring it by Norris Automotive to make sure that your vehicle is humming along as it should, the perfect accompaniment to your next concert in the car!

Road Trip Hacks That WE Use

Lots of us are headed out on one more road trip before summer is over. After you make your car road trip ready, here are some ways to help you on your drive, whether it be to Disney or DC or Detroit or Danville.

  1. Zip lock bags. Whether you’re organizing your clothes by day, containing crayons, storing those shorts that your kid messed up, or saving that last half of a cookie, don’t leave home without an assortment of sizes of zip lock bags. The more you take, the more ways that you will find to use them. (Some things are in this list…)
  2. Sharpies. If you’ve saved one cookie for Jack and the other for Jill, you can label that zip lock bag with a Sharpie. Sharpies are also good for putting telephone numbers on umbrellas or labeling water bottles or cups. Put a number on each piece of your luggage so you’ll make sure you have it all in your car after a stay at the hotel.
  3. Napkins and bags of flatware. You know you have a stash of these somewhere in your kitchen. Your road trip is a great time to use them! (Put them in one of the zip lock bags and label it with a Sharpie…)
  4. Water bottle ice packs. If you’re packing a soft side cooler of snacks (that’s a bonus hack), keep them cool with a bottle of frozen water. Most hotel rooms have a freezer area so you can freeze the water overnight. If they don’t, fill up a zip lock bag with ice, and double bag it in case of leakage.
  5. A surprise every hour. If you have kids, gather a stash of surprises. Ideas include: an audio book, a regular book, Playdough (it’s not messy anymore), stickers, a travel game, a snack, a photo album, Dollar Tree toys, a conversation starter, a finger puppet…Set the timer on your phone, and every hour, pull out something new.
  6. Plastic cereal container trash can. Rubbermaid and Tupperware make 1.5 gallon cereal keepers that make perfect trash cans. Fill up the bottom with plastic grocery bags, and then use one at a time for your trash.
  7. Gas Buddy App. This app will save you time and money on gas, by showing you the nearest and the least dearest place to buy gasoline.
  8. Multi port charger. These handy things fit into your 12V charger and lets you charge all your devices at once.
  9. First aid kit. Fill it up with bandaids, pain killers, pepto, anti itch cream, Benadryl, sanitary napkin (you can use them to apply pressure to bleeding wounds) and Vitamin C. Your family may need more things in your kit.
  10. Plastic baskets. Use these to organize and contain each person’s drive-thru meal.
  11. Cleaning supplies. Take wipes and paper towels. An old toothbrush and a lint brush are great to brush off the seats and the console. Envelopes of cleaning gel will get rid of crumbs and dust. (If you’ve not used this, you’re missing out! It looks like snot, but it cleans like a charm.)
  12. Tissues. We use the disposable packs on noses, bathrooms without toilet paper, and the occasional flood of tears.

Road trips are designed to be fun, but there is always stress involved. Hopefully these hacks will help you stay organized, clean, and entertained, so you can cut down on the stress, and ramp up the fun for your next adventure.

Exceeding Your Expectations For You & Your Car

Whether you’re driving down the road and hear that unwelcome sound of screech, bang, clunk or your oil change light simply blinks red, at Norris Automotive we’re here to help you with whatever problems arise. We aim to make your experience easy, efficient, and have your car back up and running in no time.

Rev Your Engine. At the first sound of trouble, or if you need maintenance, simply just give us a call. Our friendly staff will work with your schedule and create an appointment based on your unique situation. Once your appointment is set, you’ll receive a text confirmation with all of the information we’ve discussed with you including the time of your appointment. Dropping your car off? Not a problem. We have a convenient lock box for your keys if you’ll be leaving your vehicle after hours. Just let our technicians know what works best for you and we’re happy to work around your schedule. In addition to a confirmation appointment text, expect a call or text the day before your appointment as well, letting you know that we’ve reserved a spot especially for you.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The choice is yours! If you’re having routine maintenance performed – tire rotation, oil change, etc.- you’re welcome to kick back in our waiting area, watch TV, grab a soda, and simply wait until your name is called to drive off into the sunset.

If your vehicle requires diagnostic testing, you’ll likely want to schedule a time to drop it off while our technicians uncover the problem.  After performing tests and looking under the hood, they will contact you at the number provided, review your options and put in place a plan of action.

While we’re here to get you back up and running quickly, we want to make sure that no additional problems arise and that we’ve exceeded your expectations.  A day or two after your visit, you can expect a follow up text or email from our technicians ensuring that your vehicle is functioning properly and that you have no further questions.

At Norris Automotive we strive to provide excellent customer service while getting you automobile up and running quickly. Call us today for any of your automotive needs and we’ll make sure you leave happy and your car is running smoothly. 

Questions About Car Inspections

Nobody likes to pay property taxes, but at least North Carolina makes it easy. The State has combined the process of registering a vehicle and paying annual property taxes.

Of course, before you can renew your vehicle’s registration, you must have it inspected at an inspection station like ours. At Norris Automotive, we get a lot of questions about North vehicle registration and inspections.

Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. If I buy a vehicle, do I have to get it inspected. No. The dealer will have it inspected before it is sold. If you are purchasing from an individual, you’ll need an inspection unless the car has had one in the past 12 months.
  2. My registration has expired, and my car isn’t inspected. How can I legally drive it to the inspection station? Contact the license plate agency and ask them to issue you a temporary plate.
  3. If I moved from a non-emissions county (like Orange) to an emissions county (like Alamance), do I have to have my car re-inspected? You don’t have to be reinspected until your registration expires.
  4. I’m moving to North Carolina from another state. Do I have to have my car inspected before I register it? You don’t.
  5. How old does a vehicle have to be before it no longer needs to have inspections? A vehicle over 20 years old is exempt from the emissions portion of the inspection. A vehicle over 35 years old is not required to have a safety inspection at all.
  6. My vehicle has failed the emission inspection two times. Can I get an exemption? There is a possibility of getting a one year waiver. Ask us about it.

At Norris Automotive, we are here to repair and service your car, but also to answer your questions. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find out. Our goal is for you and your family to stay safe in your vehicle and on the road.

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