Free services at AutoZone and other auto stores

No need to pay $100 or more for a diagnosis

You know it's going to be a bad day when your car struggles to start or the check engine light comes on.

It can cost $200 at the dealer just to have the problem diagnosed.

But you may not realize you might be able to get that problem checked for free at AutoZone or your other local auto parts stores.

Many drivers don't realize that AutoZone, the nation's largest auto parts chain, will do the following services free of charge:

  • Read the codes on your check engine light
  • Test your battery's voltage
  • Check your alternator and starter
  • Help you install new wiper blades

No AutoZone nearby? Advance Auto Parts, O'Reilly and Pep Boys will also perform many of these services for free, so be sure to ask.

When NOT to drive to an auto parts store

But there are two dashboard lights where you should not try to drive to an auto parts store for a free check.

  • One is the overheating light. It's a red thermometer that means your motor is low on coolant and overheating (or has a leaking head gasket, where coolant is running into the oil).
  • Two is the red oil-can light. This means your oil level is dangerously low.

In both cases do not keep driving, or your engine could possibly seize up.

So your best bet is to pull over to a safe spot and call for help.

Of course, if you want a full diagnosis, by a certified ASE auto mechanic, you're not going to get that at an auto parts store.

But for basic issues it might be worth trying them so you don't waste your money.

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