honest pricing

When you have your car serviced, you deserve absolute clarity on what will be done to your vehicle and what it will cost.

At lowell’s, we give you all-in, honest prices for our services. We know that getting your car fixed can be intimidating, so we do all we can to give you control over your vehicle’s service.

no games

“Shop Supplies.” “Recycling Fee.” “Document Retention Fee.” “Environmental Disposal Charge.” “Fuel Surcharge.”

A lot of places find ‘creative’ ways to make you pay more. They often include special fees and charges like those above. Other places hide costs in fine print. Some places underquote by leaving out commonly-used parts.

We don’t do any of that.

We never use fine print, and we quote a fair price for the entire job. If we end up not needing parts that we initially quoted, you won’t pay for them.

lowell’s charges for just three things: 1) the parts we use, 2) the work our employees do, and 3) the Kentucky sales tax we are required to collect and pass along to the state. That’s it.

no pressure

What we do with your car is your decision.

We’ll tell you what your Toyota or Lexus really needs.

We’ll identify what needs your attention now, and what can wait for later. And we’ll never try to scare you or trick you into making a service decision.

If you choose not to approve a service item, that’s fine with us. If you don’t have enough time for service right now, that’s fine, too.

It’s your car; we let you decide.

no surprises

We get your permission first.

We always ask you before doing additional work on your vehicle. That way, we can prevent any unpleasant surprises when you pick up your car.

 

No games. No pressure. No surprises. We think this is the right way – the only honorable way – to do business.

making it easier to get on with your life

We know that getting your car serviced isn’t always convenient – you’ve got plenty to do, and waiting for a repair or arranging a ride can be a hassle.

A lot of customers don’t know that lowell’s can help you get on with your life while your car is being serviced. Consider any of these options to make your life easier for your next appointment with us.

Shuttle Van

Let lowell’s give you a ride to work or back home in our Sienna courtesy shuttle. A lot of customers who live or work close to downtown like this option, but we provide rides all over town!

Loaner Vehicles

Or, drive yourself wherever you need to go with one of our loaner vehicles. lowell’s has a fleet of six loaner vehicles which are free to use while your car is being serviced. When you make your appointment, just let us know that you are interested in a loaner, and we’ll reserve one for you!

Loaner Bikes

Finally, if you are feeling particularly energetic, lowell’s offers loaner bicycles so that you can pedal where you need to go.

You are always welcome to wait in our lobby or our great neighborhood. But if you’ve got places to be, we hope that one of these options will make your next visit with us a little (or a lot) more convenient!

extreme weather and your battery

Most car batteries last for approximately 3 to 5 years under normal conditions. As the temperature drops or rises, however, you may experience extra strains on your battery.

Extreme Cold

The near-zero temperatures this week can take quite a toll on your vehicle’s battery.

Not only is your engine harder to turn over when it is extremely cold, but these temperatures can mean that your lead-acid battery is only operating with about half of its normal power output.

A weaker cold-weather battery, coupled with a stubborn cold-weather engine, can make it a lot harder to get your car started. So a battery that starts a car fairly well at normal temperatures suddenly stops operating as the temperature plummets.

At lowell’s, we see a lot of no-start or slow-to-start issues when cold weather strikes. If you notice that your car is struggling to get started, it may be a signal that you need to replace your battery.

Extreme Heat

Your battery actually gets a lot stronger in extremely warm weather, but that extra energy comes at a price: The accelerated chemistry inside your battery in hot weather can shorten your battery’s life.

The evaporation of the fluids (acids) inside of your battery under extreme heat can corrode many parts of your starting and charging system. If you see a lot of bluish-white gunk on or around your battery, that’s a sign of excessive evaporation.

What you can do

As your battery ages, it is a good idea to have it checked a few times a year to ensure that it is putting out the appropriate level of power. Have the battery terminals cleaned and battery cable ends replaced if you see excessive corrosion around the battery.

If you typically drive a lot of quick trips, consider mixing in a few longer drives. Very short trips often don’t recharge the large amount of energy used to start your vehicle. Over time, this quick-trip deficit can place ever-greater strains on your battery, and can shorten its life considerably.

Also, consider unplugging accessory cables (like phone chargers) when the vehicle is not in use. Faulty or low-quality chargers can drain your battery when not in use.

cars and lights and codes

Suddenly finding a dash warning light can create a lot of anxiety while driving. What does that light mean? Can I still drive? And how much is this going to cost me?

We know that those lights can be scary, and we’re ready to help you figure out what your particular warning light means.

maintenance required

The good news is that the light which comes on most frequently – the ‘maintenance required’ or ‘MAINT REQD’ light – is relatively mild.

The maintenance required light simply indicates that you are overdue for an oil change. On most Toyota or Lexus vehicles, it comes on automatically 5,000 miles after your last oil change.

And while oil changes are your most important regular service, a maintenance required light isn’t usually something which you need to address right now.  Simply schedule your next oil change at your earliest convenience. When we change your oil, we’ll reset your maintenance required light, and you should be ready for the road.

more serious lights

While the ‘maintenance required’ light may not be that serious, other dash warning lights should be addressed as soon as possible. Depending on your vehicle, these may include your ‘check engine’, ‘ABS’, ‘VSC’, and / or ‘TRAC’ lights. If any one or combination of these lights comes on for your vehicle, get your vehicle checked out right away.

Unfortunately, these aren’t lights which can be diagnosed over the phone.  The underlying problem might cause permanent damage to your vehicle, or it might not be serious at all.

The safest policy is to have us check out your vehicle’s computer to determine the condition that is triggering the light to come on.

checking codes

Using a laptop computer and Toyota’s TechStream software, we will check your vehicle computer for any recorded or pending conditions which could trigger your warning light. The vehicle computer will often store special codes which point us toward the vehicle subsystem which is reporting a problem.

These codes are relatively easy to obtain: we can pull the codes here at lowell’s, or there are a variety of aftermarket devices which can also get them. (If you ever use one of these devices, make sure to preserve all of the details; many devices will clear out the traces of trouble codes and make them difficult to properly diagnose.)

By themselves, these codes don’t tell us very much. They are akin to telling your doctor about a pain in your throat. The pain gives a doctor an idea of where to look next, and what kinds of tests (pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, throat cultures, etc.) might be needed to determine the specific problem behind the symptom. In this example, further testing might reveal that a strep infection is behind the throat pain.

In a similar fashion, the codes stored by your vehicle’s computer provide symptoms which require further testing in order to pinpoint your car’s specific malady. For example, a P0304 code can tell us there is a misfire on cylinder #4, but it doesn’t tell us the specific source of that misfire (further testing might show that the ignition coil for that cylinder is bad).

Our technicians will test the various subsystem components which could trigger a particular code, and we’ll identify the specific problem.

getting back with you

Once we’ve determined the problem, we’ll get with you to discuss its severity and the cost of fixing it. Sometimes, we’ll tell you that the problem doesn’t really affect the proper functioning of your car, and you can continue to drive with the warning light. (Note, however, that driving with a constant warning light can cover up any new trouble codes which occur.)

In any case, whenever you have a warning light, be sure to have us check it out, so that you can know whether the problem is severe or not. We’ll be glad to give you that peace of mind!

the single most important thing you can do for your car

When I first started driving, my dad asked me the same question over and over about my car.

“When’s the last time you changed the oil in that thing?”

‘That thing’ was my first car, an avocado-green 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass. My dad wanted me to change its oil and oil filter every couple of thousand miles. I have to admit that I wasn’t the most diligent oil-changer, which was why Dad stayed on me about changing it.

As a typical teenager, I dismissed the question as an annoying intrusion on my newfound car-centric ‘freedom’. But even into adulthood, I was never all that concerned about how often I changed my oil.

It really wasn’t until I bought lowell’s that I understood the true importance of Dad’s question.

A regular oil and filter change is the single most important thing you can do to help keep your car’s engine running longer.

Why your oil matters

Fresh oil keeps internal engine parts clean and lubricated, which prolongs the life of your engine.

Oil breaks down with exposure to the high temperatures of your engine. As it breaks down, your oil stops absorbing dust, moisture, and other contaminants. That means the oil won’t lubricate as well, causing engine parts to wear out faster.

What can go wrong

Because old oil stops lubricating as well, your engine parts rub together. This increased friction causes the parts to wear out faster and makes your engine hotter – which causes your oil to degrade even faster, triggering a downward spiral of deteriorating oil, heat, and engine wear.

Eventually, the oil can break down into sludge – a sticky, tar-like substance which clogs narrow passageways inside your engine – and oil can’t get where it is needed inside your clogged engine.

The increased heat and friction in your engine can also cause your engine to seize and need to be replaced.

What we do

We drain the old oil from your engine and replace it and the oil filter. We use only genuine Toyota oil filters with a double-stage filtering element and an anti-drainback valve.

We also perform a free Courtesy Check – a visual inspection of your belts, fluids, hoses, lights, tire pressures, and tire wear – with each service, which allows us to identify small problems before they become big problems.

What we do with the old stuff

We’ve contracted with a recycling service to pick up your old oil and oil filters. Once the dirt and other contaminants are removed, most of your old oil can be re-refined into high-grade motor oil.

When we recommend it

Our oil change recommendations depend on the type of engine your car has.

For engines using conventional motor oil (5W-20 or 5W-30 grade oil), we recommend changing your oil every 3,500 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. This applies to almost all 2009 and earlier Toyotas, and many vehicles made between 2010 and 2013.

For engines using full synthetic motor oil (0W-20 grade), we recommend changing your oil every 5,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. This applies to almost all 2014 and later Toyotas, and many vehicles made between 2010 and 2013.

So… When’s the last time you changed the oil in that thing?

new public art at lowell’s

In early October, local art group PRHBTN sponsored six new street art murals around Lexington.

One of the biggest new murals is right next to Lowell’s! We can see this huge, beautiful art from our front door, and we chronicled artists Yu-baba and Key Detail as they painted.

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We think that this new mural is part of what makes Lexington and our North Lime neighborhood such a great and unique place to live and work. Come down to lowell’s to see it!

 

north lime

This month, we’re updating our logo, our colors, and our design.

You’ll see these new colors, logo, and design first on our emails, website, and buildings (which are freshly painted), and we’ll continue to roll out the new design throughout all of our materials in the coming weeks.

One new element of the design is the ‘north lime’ designation which goes along with our logo. We are proud to be part of Lexington’s resurgent North Limestone neighborhood, and we wanted to celebrate that in our logo.

North Lime is where we work every day. It’s where we get to see you. We’ve been here for 37 years, and this neighborhood is in our blood.

We’re still here at 111 Mechanic Street, in the heart of North Lime. And we can’t wait to see you here soon!

don’t mind our mess

For the past few months, Mechanic Street and North Limestone have been under seemingly-endless construction as the water lines along our streets have been replaced. Initially only slated for a few weeks, the construction has dragged on – often with no apparent activity for days at a time.

At the same time, we’ve been repainting the outsides of our buildings at Lowell’s. This has included scraping nearly 70 years of paint off of our buildings (and making some interesting discoveries along the way), replacing much of the mortar along some walls, priming, and painting.

So, we’ve got holes, above-ground pipes, and piles of gravel in our street. And our building looks completely different on the outside.

But don’t let the mess put you off – we’re still ready to help with whatever your vehicle needs!

uncovering a bit of our history

As we peeled away some sixty to seventy years of paint, we started to make out faint outlines of block letters underneath all of those layers.

At first, all we could see was ‘ETE  HOME  F’. Then, below that, we could make out ‘LEXINGTON – DANVILLE’. At the top of the building, we could start to see ‘H & G’.

We were hooked. We wanted to know what was here before.

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We’ve often wondered about the origins of our buildings here on Mechanic Street. We’ve known that our main building was built in 1949, but we didn’t know what kind of building it was.

That changed as we prepared to paint our building this year.

As we scraped away more paint, we could find more clues, but the clues were never very clear. Eventually, it started to look like ‘H & G COMPLETE HOME FURNI’, and we were pretty sure we were dealing with some sort of furniture store. That seemed a little odd, given the structure of our building, but maybe our building was just a warehouse for the store.

Finally, with most of the paint removed, the top line looked a lot less like ‘H & G’ and much more like ‘BAUGH & GARNER’.

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Several internet searches (mainly, the great historical images at the University of Kentucky’s ExploreUK) confirmed that our building was part of Baugh & Garner Incorporated, a furniture store on the corner of North Limestone and Mechanic Streets. The four-story building for the store was built in 1922, and our building at 111 Mechanic Street was built a quarter-century later as a warehouse for the store.

We can’t find any contemporaneous pictures of our building when it was part of the store, but we do have some good pictures of the store itself from 1921, 1932, and 1933.

We’d love to know more about Baugh and Garner – when it started, who ran it, when it went out of business, when the old building was torn down, etc.  If you can share any additional details, please let us know!

 

 

 

Lowell’s wins 2015 Angie’s List Award

We are extremely humbled by the awards that customers have chosen for us over the years.

We have won 8 Readers’ Choice Awards from Herald-Leader readers as Favorite Auto Repair Shop. We’ve also won 9 Ace Magazine Best in Lex Awards as Favorite Mechanic. We are Lexington’s first and only RepairPal Certified mechanic.

And now, for the third year in a row, we’ve also been recognized by Angie’s List.

Lowell’s has earned the Angie’s List 2015 Super Service Award for the outstanding things our customers have said about our service on Angie’s List.

Angie’s List collects reviews from real people on a variety of services, including reviews of auto repair service in Lexington.

According to Angie’s List, “winners of this award have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an ‘A’ rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.”

We are so honored to serve great customers and to have had those customers make this award happen for us. Thanks for all of the wonderful things you say and do for Lowell’s!