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Where were you on September 11?

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was in a hotel room in Breckenridge, Colo., in the beautiful all-American Rocky Mountains. I was taking my first vacation in a couple of years with one of my best friends from high school, Tim, who lived in western Kansas. We had not spent any time together in a while and felt that hitting the mountains was a good idea for some R&R. Hour by hour was how we planned it. No reservations. We landed in Breckenridge the end of the second day, September 10. We pulled up to the best-looking hotel furthest up the mountain. Being early September, just after Labor Day, the town was desolate. We asked around to find the best local seafood joint on a Monday night. We were waited on like kings and had the place to ourselves. The waitress was talkative and helpful. We asked, what does one do for excitement on a Monday night at the height of the off-season in Colorado? Go to Jacks at midnight for disco night, she advised. Jacks turned ... read more

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Team New Concept

What color is your coolant? (Part I)

What color is your coolant? (Part I)

All cars have an engine cooling system. The purpose is to keep the engine from overheating due to the natural combustion process and to provide warm air inside your car on cold days. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to pick up the heat. Part of it goes through the heater core inside the car, then through the thermostat, then back to the radiator where outside air is used to cool it back down via a radiator fan. The system is closed, which means the coolant keeps traveling around in the same path. The thermostat is a temperature-regulated, flow control valve used to maintain a certain temperature, which is around 195 degrees F on most cars. You have to have a specific mixture of coolant and water for best results–usually about 50/50 in most cases. Coolant, also known as antifreeze, keeps the fluid from freezing in the winter time, hence the name. Even in the relatively temperate climate of Overland Park, Kansas, coolant also does not last forever. As i ... read more

What color is your coolant? (Part II)

What color is your coolant? (Part II)

As discussed last time, we have been working on some of the many electrical issues created by the Lucas electrical system found in a customer’s 1970 MGB. This customer had recently noticed his heater was not producing warm air, and we discovered the coolant had changed color and the temperature gauge vibrated as you revved the engine up. We found a few issues upon further investigation. First, the thermostat was stuck in the open position, therefore not allowing the coolant to warm up enough to get heat inside the car. Second, the heater core was nearly plugged internally with gunk. The coolant smelled acidic and actually stained the concrete floor a light brown color. The bouncing temperature gauge needle was from the temperature sender unit which had a loose electrical connector, and vibrated with the engine speed. To get all the old fluid out of the engine block, we removed a drain plug on the side of the block. The sediment was so deep and compact, that nothing ca ... read more

The passion behind our service

The passion behind our service

It is the goal of New Concept Auto Service to keep our customers’ cars safe and reliable. We do this through scheduled maintenance and needed repairs, using high quality parts and certified technicians. I have always known what I wanted to do in life, and that was to learn everything I could about how things worked. I grew up in WaKeeney, Kansas, halfway to Denver on I-70. My parents owned a farm implement dealership, which is where I discovered my interest in all things mechanical and electrical. Fascinated, I honed my skills building and rebuilding all kinds of vehicles including racecars and classic cars. I had a great mentor named Kenny Hacker who owned a performance speed shop in town and build racecar engines as well as rebuilding most anything farm related. I became a skilled machinist by the age of 18, building many race-winning engines. I graduated from K-State in 1987 (go Cats) with a degree in mechanical engineering and landed a job working for Westinghouse Electric ... read more

No shortcuts to diagnosing shorts

No radio makes for tough day at the beach – logically. I have a dear friend named Kurt that I have known for many years. Kurt is a mechanical engineer like me and we have spent much time discussing at length the whys and what-fors of most anything mechanical or electrical. How do you think this works? Why did someone design this so poorly? How much does this weigh? I love to engage in these logic-centered conversations and he is the perfect friend to share them with. Anyhow, Kurt’s wife and three young boys were planning a trip to the South Carolina beach near their home on Sunday and the radio quit working in the minivan Saturday morning. Kurt called me around noon Saturday to discuss the scenario. He found the radio fuse under the dash was blown. With a few simple tools, he logically disconnected the radio, replaced the fuse, but it blew again when he switched on the key. He called when I was sitting at my Overland Park shop with access to the factory wiring diagr ... read more

Celebrating collector cars

Celebrating collector cars

…“the collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.” – Senate Resolution 452 Today, collector car lovers all across the country are celebrating the third annual national Collector Car Appreciation Day! What a great way to bring out the classics—people are being encouraged to drive their collector cars to work and gather to recognize our nation’s automotive heritage. SEMA and other industry organizations have worked hard to bring attention to the “high-skilled jobs which are supported through vehicle restoration and customization.” In case you haven’t noticed, automotive restoration is at an all-time high! The Baby Boomers and younger enthusiasts are connecting with their roots by searching out their first cars and making them new again. At New Concept Auto Service we have done a ton of electrical and mechanical restoration work in recent years and there is no ... read more

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Other

Insider secrets for hot-weather driving

Summer has definitely arrived! The Weather Channel is actually reporting more than 4,000 daily record highs have been smashed in the last month. Last weekend here in Overland Park, Kansas, we hit 107, with no relief in sight. If we’ve ever needed hot-weather driving wisdom, it’s now! Here are a few tips you may have never heard of to keep you on the road safely and efficiently: Recirculate your air. Most air conditioning systems have a mode for fresh air and one called recirc (or max). In fresh air mode, the system takes 100 degree outside air and tries to cool it down to 40 degrees. Recirc keeps recycling the cold air inside your vehicle, and is easier on your air conditioning system. So, periodically cycle to fresh air (especially when travelling with smelly relative) but mostly leave it on recirc. In the spring and fall, I always use fresh mode. Fill your tank. Your fuel pump is an electric motor that runs constantly, and tends to heat up just like any motor ... read more

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Hot Weather

Are your tires safe? (Part II)

So you know it’s time to replace those tires, but just where do you start? First off, match the code with the car as stated in the previous blog. I have seen thousands of tires on all kinds of cars in all kinds of conditions and here is what I have to say: Buy tires as a set, or in pairs, but stay away from buying one at a time (unless it is an obvious circumstance). BUY HIGH QUALITY TIRES from someone you trust! You also get what you pay for. Generally the quality of the tire increases with the price. I don’t promote poor quality, inexpensive tires. They are unsafe and, frankly, a poor value. If there is a rating system for myself of good, better and best, I only promote better or best. Brand new cars come with better or best level of quality tires from the factory as they were designed. However, you will find many tires of lesser quality and price available. Why? Because there is a market for them. Tire stores sell tires, I sell service. Here is a good example ... read more

Are your tires safe? (Part I)

Tires are round and black and smell funny. Everybody needs them because they all wear out. That’s what I heard from Bob, the first tire supplier I every bought from. He went on to tell me my good customers will come to rely on me to select what tire is best for them, so I better learn about them. I want to talk a little about my experience with tires, specifically, how to know what tire you have, how to maintain them, when to replace them, and how to pick what you need. Since the Rubber Manufacturers Association has declared June “National Tire Safety Month,” I thought I’d do my part to increase consciousness among drivers about tire safety. I’ll start with defining a tire by its standard designation system, or tire code. Let’s use one of my loaner cars as the example. The car is a 2000 Toyota Avalon. All car manufacturers have engineers who design what tire is best for a particular car. This info, along with designed tire pressure, is found on a placard attached to the ... read more

Like father, like son (Part II)

Suburban Overland Park, Kansas, sometimes seems a world away from my rural hometown—but when it comes to automotive customer service, the principles for success remain unchanged. Here is more from the New Concept Auto Service manual about how we make sure our customers’ needs are met. Ask for the work Once the estimate has been presented, it is up to the customer to decide. Should the customer hesitate or would like to think about it, ask a few questions. Questions like, “Is there anything you would like me to explain further?” or “Would you like me to fax or email a copy of the estimate?” These questions usually lead to a decision one way or the other quickly. Sometimes a customer is not sure how much to do, if anything, and will ask for advice. Remind them the labor functions are in order of initial concern, safety, reliability and scheduled maintenance. Advise them to go in that order of importance. Should a customer question the quality, depend ... read more

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Customer Service