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Green Registry Leadership Award for a Columbia Auto Repair Facility.


MD Green Registry Member2010 Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award for a Columbia Auto Repair Facility -- yes, what a great headline. Earlier this month, I attended a meeting where British American Auto Care was awarded a Green Leadership Award along with NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, GM Baltimore Transmission Plant, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Union Hospital of Cecil County. What great company to win an award with! These are the first awards given out since the Green Registry was started last year.

The night of the award reception was a hot and steamy night.  Record temperatures of 105 were reached in Baltimore, and I was worried that the Green Building Institute where the event was being held would not have air conditioning! I had been on a tour of this building, and it is one of the greenest buildings in the world. It uses natural air flow to keep the building cool, but all was cool, and they did have an air conditioning back up for very hot days.  So you can be green and stay cool!

 About 100 people attended the event and the awards were given out by Shari T. Wilson, Secretary of the Maryland Dept. of the Environment. Each company gave a short speech, and I was first on the line up. I pointed out that the exciting thing about the last two years was the strong commitment to green practices from employees, customers and consultants. We have seen many great ideas come from so many people. This has affected our work culture in a very positive way. On top of this all the projects that we have taken on have made good business sense.

MD Green Auto Industry LeadershipWe were all very proud to receive this award from the Maryland Department of the Environment who have been a wonderful agency to work with over the years. They have provided great training and support with the vehicle emissions program, the Green Registry and on storm water issues.

5 Things to Consider When It's Time to Buy A New Car!


new bmw 7 seriesAfter performing preventive auto maintenance on your car for many years there comes a time when we say "It's time to buy a new car" or change to a good used car.

While the economy is still slow the automakers are offering special incentives to tempt us to buy a new car. Very low interest rates and discounts are being offered to get us to spend and help with the re-growth of the economy, but buying a new car is an important decision.  Whatever car you choose, buying a new car is a major step, and you should take time to make the right decision. Here are a few tips to help you with that decision.

1)  Start by making a list of the essential features that you need, and then make a list of the features you would like. By having a list already prepared, it will be much easier to make a decision when it comes to choosing between two cars you like.  

Thinking about an SUV?  Although it is great to drive a larger vehicle with plenty of metal around you and a high seating position that gives you a commanding view of the road, there are some downsides to these vehicles.  They have greater stopping distances, higher costs to maintain and low miles per gallon - and no excuses for not going to work when it snows!

Is an alarm system on your list of features?  Recently we have had several customers come in with intermittent starting problems that we have traced to faulty alarm systems installed after the car was built.  In many cases, the companies who made or installed the alarm were out of business.  Since we had no way to repair them, we had to remove them.  If you buy a new car and you want to add a special alarm system, buy the system made for the car by the manufacturer.

And what about undercoating?  I don't think extra undercoating is a good investment.  Most new cars come with great body protection warranties.  One popular national undercoating company requires you to have yearly inspections to keep the warranty in place.  Miss one and the warranty is void!  We have one customer who faithfully took her Chevy Nova for inspection for 16 years.  Then this year, we found rust under the car -- and when she took it back to them, they came out with a lame excuse about a drain plug had not been removed to let out water in the chassis.  Definitely not her money's worth!

2) Read consumer reports and other non-manufacturer associated magazines and websites that provide information about the vehicle you are interested in.  They can provide you with an objective perspective on the car you're considering.

Is a hybrid car on your list? More and more people have started to ask what hybrid to buy.  Check  out for more information on buying a hybrid.

3) Visit different dealerships and test drive different models so you can accurately compare features.  You are the only one who knows exactly what "feels" right to you.  

4) Talk to people who have the same model vehicle that you are considering buying, and find out what their experiences have been.  This can help to uncover some things you might not have thought about.

5) And, lastly talk to a good independent auto service repair facility.  If you live near Howard County or work in Howard County call us for our opinion.  Independent repair shops service hundreds of vehicles every month, and that means they see first hand which makes and models are more reliable, with less repeat problems. Tell them what you are considering and they should give you an honest opinion

Whatever vehicle you end up buying, remember that anyone can maintain it.  In fact, it is a good idea to have someone independent look after your new vehicle during the warranty period. Using an independent shop will NOT invalidate your warranty.  Independent shops will keep an eagle eye out for possible warranty concerns.  Manufacturers typically allow only half the retail repair time to fix problems that are brought in under warranty?  That's right - no wonder it can be so frustrating to get warranty repairs done!  The dealer technicians have no incentive to point out warranty problems.  As most dealers pay technicians for the hours they produce, they are getting half pay for warranty jobs.

Getting a new car is exciting!  If that's coming up for you, Congratulations!  And remember that you can keep it looking and running like new for many years to come with regular check-ups and preventive maintenance at British American Auto Care the best auto service in Howard County.

How is the Deciphering of Secret Codes Related to Auto Repair?


americas first intelligence satelliteWell, here at British American Auto Care we don't really get involved in deciphering secret codes, just diagnosing car problems, but I do not think there is a day when our free courtesy van does not visit NSA, the National Security Agency. Actually, I should say we drop someone off just outside one of their gates. It seems that like the parking lots spread for miles just like BWI airport.

Our customers that work at NSA don't talk about what they do, but they often mention the National Cryptologic Museum that is housed in what used to be a motel. It was said that NSA brought the motel because Russian agents were staying there!

Using NSA words:

"Visitors can catch a glimpse of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology: the people who devoted their lives to cryptology and national defense, the machines and devices they developed, the techniques they used, and the places where they worked. For the visitor, some events in American and world history will take on a new meaning. For the cryptologic professional, it is an opportunity to absorb the heritage of the profession".

If you would like to learn about what was done in the past be sure to take one of the tours.  Most of the time a volunteer will take you round and give you some amazing insight into the cryptological profession and their achivements.

This is a great place to take someone from out of town, it is easy to get to on Route 32 and most people get a kick out going somewhere close to the NSA. They have a gift shop so you can come away with something with their logo on. The NSA is quite open compared to the secrecy that enveloped the agency in years gone by.  Plus, they have a website where you can find out more.

Yes, our deciphering is limited to car problems, but there is a cool place right here in Howard County where you can learn about some top secret code cracking that took place in our history.

photo courtesy of the NSA

Watch Out - Diagnosing Car Problems on the Web Can Cost You Money!


using the web to diagnose car problemsIf you have ever used the Internet to find the answer to a health issue you know it can be helpful but it can also be overwhelming and sometimes scary.  Well the same thing can happen when you try to use the Internet to diagnose car problems.  You can find a lot of information about what could be causing the problem but you may or may not find the right answer.  Plus, taking the information you find to your auto repair shop could end up costing you extra money on your repair bill.

When you check a car into an auto repair shop for diagnosis of a problem and you mention a possible solution or a few solutions that you found on the internet, you are putting yourself and the automotive repair shop in an awkward position. The shop often feels obligated to address the problem(s) you bring up before moving on to a real diagnosis.  Well, that can be good if your diagnosis is right, but if not, it can end up costing you more money because the auto shop will have wasted time checking out something that wasn’t even an issue -- time that could be better spent doing a proper diagnosis. 

A more effective way to use the Internet in finding a solution to your car problem is to find a good diagnostic form.  Look for one that has all the questions that a high quality auto service shop is going to ask you before they start any work. By finding and filling out the form ahead of time, you can be on the lookout for things that you may not necessarily be expecting a question on from your repair shop.  Take the completed from with you to the auto repair shop, and the technician will be able to use this information to find the problem quickly and efficiently. Quickly and efficiently means less cost to your, so you can see there are big advantages to working with the shop to get the bottom of you car problem.

Another area where the Internet can be of use is in checking to see if any of the manufacturer’s service updates relate to you problem. As cars go through the warranty period and beyond, car makers issue service bulletins to help with the service and repair of their cars. These updates can be helpful in diagnosing your car problem.

photo courtesy of

Tips on Cool Places in Columbia -- Only a Courtesy Shuttle Ride Away


great-place-to-hike-in-Columbia-MdYou would not think that auto repair in Howard County would have anything to do with an environmental area. Well, while driving the British American Auto Care free courtesy shuttle one morning with a full load of customers that wanted to go in four different directions the subject came up. I don’t know how the subject came up, but I was surprised to find out that the person I was talking to did not know about the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA). I then thought maybe a lot of people do not know about this area that area takes up 1020 acres of land in the middle of Columbia!

MPEA-offers-great-hiking-in-Howard-CountyIt is a gem; it has 5.4 miles of trails and two numbered nature trails, one off Southwind, the other off Trotter Road. One trail has a boardwalk over some wetlands, and the bridges and boardwalks on the rest of the trails make hiking very easy for most people. The Middle Patuxent River runs through the area, and on a hot day you will find teenagers splashing around or sunbathing on the rocks. This is a great area to explore in every season. Check it out for yourself.  

Who would think that the best auto repair facility in Howard County would also know about one of the best place to visit in the are too.

hike-at-the-MPEA-in-ColumbiaI hope you enjoy the MPEA as much as I have.

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