Improvements to Your Car and Your Home with Guest Jeff Barker


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Drive Friendly with Steve & Felecia
Drive Friendly with Steve & Felecia
Improvements to Your Car and Your Home with Guest Jeff Barker

Do you know those things they ask you about when you get your oil changed? The things you always reply to with “I’ll do it next time” (maybe it’s just me). We’ll you don’t want to kick the can too far down the road. The same is true for those little things around the house.

Our guest this week is Jeff Barker. He handles sales and product training for Robert Bosch, LLC in the Southwest, and he shares a few things to make your next ride a little more enjoyable.

Steve and him geek out on parts, warranties, what to ask and who to trust. Felecia jumps in with some great recommendations around the house… Little things that make a big difference (Matt and his wife are all over it). Felecia and Ryan go on to help out our guest Jeff with a live “what am I missing out on” residential real estate consultation.

Episode Recap


  • Get a car warranty but get the right one.
  • Replace your car’s cabin air filter, especially here in Arizona.
  • Staying home for the summer? Make these home improvements.
  • Buy a home when your family’s ready, not just the market.

Are Car Warranties Worth It?

We started off answering a question from a listener. “What is a good extended warranty for my car?” The used car market is tricky when it comes to after-market warranties. There are some good ones, like CNA (Scottsdale), but they can be high-priced. Now, there are some not-so-good ones. These limit their labor rate to under $50 per hour (the national average for shops is $130/hour). They only pay for what AutoZone sells it for. That means the customer pays the difference. Some of them also only let the shop install parts they supply, and those can be used parts or knock-offs from China. Friendly wants to use original equipment. So, when somebody tells you the warranties cover everything, that’s not always the case. Get the brochure! It’ll tell you which parts are covered. Some parts on there don’t even exist anymore! Friendly Auto had another issue. The condenser on the A/C was clogged, and the warranty company would not pay for all the parts that needed to be replaced, only the failed component. That means, the customer paid the difference between the $300 covered and the total $1500 bill — on top of the $3000 warranty fee! Don’t shop your extended warranty by price.

Seals and gaskets aren’t typically covered, either. That can be a couple thousand dollars right there, not covered. The truth is, warranties are risky enough that they come with unpleasant surprises.

Next question: with a 2011 GMC pickup, the oil gauge goes to zero at a light. He’s replaced just about everything and updated software and other services. So, what’s the answer? Underneath the oil pressure switch is a screen, on that engine. The screen gets clogged. It’s pretty labor-intensive to get to it, but if you take it out, you’ll notice it’s clogged. For $3, get a new one. Why does it get clogged? Change the oil and keep up the maintenance.

The Cabin Air Filter and Your Car’s AC System

Friendly Auto is one of the only Bosch certified shops in Mesa. That means if you drive a luxury car, you’ll get better service for way cheaper than going to the dealer. Jeff joined in and talked cabin air filters. A new filter is a nice blue color. If yours is black, it’s way too overdue for a change! This filters air from either outside or recirculated into the cabin. Imagine the quality of the air you breathe if your filter is clogged with smog, dust and pollution. It can be disgusting and revolting. You want a HEPA filter that filters out everything larger than .03 microns. That means you won’t smell that cigarette the other driver is holding outside their car. Not all vehicles have these filters, but most new cars do. Be sure to get those looked at. Now, with a HEPA filter, because it filters out so much, it will reduce the airflow. Also, you want to look at the condenser coil, because mildew may have built up with a dirty cabin filter.

Do we change those more frequently here in Arizona? Yes. Because of our dust storms, we need to change these out more frequently. Whenever your car is in for service, ask about the cabin filter. In fact, they should be asking you!

If this filter gets too clogged, it can actually shut down your AC system. It’s just like the filter in your house. Notice a lot of dust? Check the cabin filter. The more efficient the filter, the more you have to change ‘em out. A good HEPA filter does cost a little more, but it’s better for both you and your car.

Friendly is getting a new system from Clorox that sanitizes cars. There’s another system from a company that disinfects emergency rooms. Drive Friendly is sanitizing your driving space, so make sure and match that with a good air filter.

What is a Bosch Car Service Certified Shop?

What’s going on with Bosch these days? The landscape of the market, with COVID, sure has changed. The Bosch Car Service program has some very restrictive requirements. Friendly is one of the largest ones, but it has more to do with the quality of technicians. Training is paramount to become a BCS center.

Bosch also has new diagnostic equipment coming, stuff that’s on the bleeding edge. Even changing a windshield these days requires calibration tools. You need a laptop to change just about anything these days!

Indoor Home Improvements for Summers at Home

Next up, Ryan Steckelberg to talk mortgages and Felecia to talk real estate. The market is still hot, houses getting multiple offers. So, what do you do to improve your house if you’re staying in it? A lot of people are not going to travel this summer, which means you’re stuck at home. If you’re hunkering down at home, what do you do?

  1. Home Office: Bedrooms-plus means a side room that could be a den or, more likely these days, a home office. Just check Wayfair — it’s killing it, up over 90%. Stores like Home Depot and Lowes are also doing well.
  2. Light Fixtures: For a low cost, you can really make a difference with light fixtures. Lighting makes a big difference.
  3. MIrrors: In bathrooms, especially, these can make a big difference. Felecia broke a mirror at home, two weeks before putting her own home on the market. She went to Home Goods, got two matching framed mirrors and really got an upgrade.
  4. Hardware: Put new knobs on the kitchen cabinets.
  5. Molding: On the floors, in the kitchen.
  6. Carpeting: Change out carpeting. It’s the best way to go from a “used” to a “new” look.
    Shelving: Free-floating shelves are very popular right now. Put in shelving units. Decorate them with vases, books, etc.

Or course, if you’re putting your house on the market, paint the walls. Go with white. Gray is outdated.

Other Great Indoor Improvements: Floors and Stairs

Time to talk staircases. There are three kinds of railings. One had just sheetrock. Two is iron. Third is wood railings. Refinish the railings and the wood on the stairs. Put a little paint in the staircase. Go to a local store and get treads. If you have carpet on the stairs, get rid of it. Put tiles on the rises with backsplash tiles.

What’s better for your floor? Laminate or vinyl? Laminate is…worse for your floors! Laminate has wood inside of it, which expands when it gets wet. “Vinyl is final.” Go with waterproof vinyl. Check out Floor Decor, because they have everything.

Carpet ends at the bedrooms. Other rooms need to look like wood.

Still a Good Time to Buy a Home?

Jeff has been looking for a house for a year now. COVID has really got him stuck. Should he wait? What should he do? Ryan has the answer. If you wait, you’ll lose money on interest rates. They’re at an all-time low and will go up. As far as home values, they’re still rising here in the Valley. Ryan doesn’t see them coming down, with inventories where they are. Ryan’s advice — now is a good time!

Felecia’s advice? Buy a house when it’s right for your family, not based on the market.

Wrap Up

Until next week, Drive Friendly Arizona! Next week, we’ll talk all about pools!


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