Imagine purchasing your first car for $15 at age 15. I did just that. My parents were surprised and let’s just say not thrilled. The motor barely turned overusing jumper cables, so Dad helped me pull that car home three miles to our farm (thanks dad!). The purchase turned out to be a complete success in the end, but there was a dark cloud for a while.

The dark cloud was when that ’56 Dodge backfired while trying to start it. I tore the motor down and found out the reason it backfired was it had a large hole in the top of a piston in the motor. The car dealer was a “nice” guy but had a bad reputation for selling crappy cars to inexperienced buyers. He knew the motor was shot.

Two immediate lessons were not to trust everyone that is “nice” and to fully understand what I was buying in the first place. In other words, buyers beware!

The good news was I found a fairly new 12” crescent wrench in the trunk and an army shirt, which was popular at the time. I also learned a lot about cars as I tore this car down for scrap. That training was the foundation for understanding cars better.

It seemed I broke even financially by finding the wrench and shirt. Additionally, some spare car parts were later used to build my first hotrod. The overall experience had some value financially, but the life lessons were “priceless”.

Even if that car would have started, it was completely worn out. It looked good but was abused and had high mileage. It probably would not have made it out of Butler County. It would never go the distance.

A qualified mechanic could have advised me not to purchase that ’56 Dodge. I could have learned the major things that were wrong with it like the motor was shot as well as most other major parts. I could have avoided being surprised but didn’t.

Advice from expert mechanics can make a difference similar to advice from qualified technicians on heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) systems. Systems need to be checked out regularly just like having your car checked out before you drive to California and back. That increases the odds your car and HVAC equipment will go the distance.

Looks can be very deceiving. HVAC equipment may appear to be OK, but the major components are on the verge of being worn out and will not go the distance. Going without heating or cooling can typically be avoided with a good pre-season maintenance plan.

A qualified HVAC technician can tell us things like the compressor or capacitor in the air conditioner or heat pump are weak and on the verge of failing. Those components typically fail on the hottest days of the year when we need our air conditioners the most. Customers are often put on a waiting list as technicians scramble to just get the equipment running during their busiest days.

An HVAC technician should complete 30 or so maintenance requirements necessary to help our heating and air conditioning systems go the distance. A North American Technical Excellence (NATE) technician is best qualified to do that. Does your HVAC contractor have NATE-certified technicians?

“Buyers beware” is important when hiring a company that does not have NATE certified technicians. Are those companies just selling you an insurance policy with minimum service and monthly payments or checking out your HVAC equipment, so it runs better so it uses less energy? There is a difference.

Statistics prove pre-season checks properly completed make a difference. Failure rates drop dramatically. Equipment lasts longer and operates more efficiently. Equipment needs to be checked twice a year. Service Maintenance Agreements are a great value and John Henrys offers the best at a reasonable price.

Typically, the systems that need pre-season checks the most will not get the maintenance. That’s where you may be able to help by sharing this article with loved ones or others around us that need advice. They need help but may not read articles like this!

Many are like I was at age 15. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! I lacked experience and failed to ask the sources that would have helped. Those tough car purchase lessons are amusing today and increased my awareness. Hopefully, those avoidable lessons will now help others too.

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