The Magic Box

gene-car-guru

Two times today I had calls from customers wanting an estimate and they were concerned because we charge a fee to test before we do any actual repairs. One wanted to know why their car’s check engine light was on, especially as the car was running just fine. They said a neighbor came over and offered advice and a diagnosis of what he thought the problem might be.

I appreciate the helpfulness of friends, neighbors and tow truck drivers as they care enough to try to figure out what a car problem might be. Many times they have been right but just as many times they have been wrong. Whatever their diagnosis might be…it is still just a guess! Professionals (whether it is an auto repair shop, home air conditioning repair, the dentist or doctor), would never give a diagnosis or attempt “a repair” without first testing circuits, components or in humans taking temperatures, blood pressure, drawing blood, taking x-rays and more to see what the problem really is.

The customer then asked me to “just plug in that box” that tells you what’s wrong with the car. I am to this day puzzled why so many people believe there is a “magic box” that we plug into a car that tells us what is wrong with the car! If that “magic box” were available, I would buy several and I would not need a staff of expert technicians who have years of experience, training, and over $20,000 worth of tools and equipment.  That would greatly reduce my payroll and operations cost. I could just hire low paid mechanics to replace the parts the “magic box” said were bad. I wish our business was that easy.

Please believe there is no “magic box”, but there is a scan tool that gathers information and data to point the technician in the right direction to test the circuits and components that may have failed.

What has happened over the years is many inexperienced shops or mechanics plug in the scan tool and retrieve a code. The code is what lets the technician know what item(s) need to be tested.  Here is an example. A PO300 means a random misfire has occurred in the engine. With this code alone many shops will sell you spark plugs, clear the code and hope it is fixed without any testing fee. Sometimes you get lucky and it fixes the code, other times the light returns in a few days to a week and they sell you more parts (We call these shops “parts replacers” and they keep replacing and charging their customers until they finally get it right).

Most professional shops will charge a fee to test items such as fuel pressure, the fuel injectors, coils, all the sensors, vacuum leaks, fuel trims, spark plugs and other items related to the code. Once testing is complete, an accurate repair can be performed, saving you time and money, because the concern is fixed the first time and there is no need to return for more parts.

As cars become more computerized, the systems are more difficult to test! Please beware of anyone that will just replace parts and not test to identify the concern.

Have a great day.

Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

What is That? Check Engine Light Service At Certified Auto Specialists

Okay. You went to your local Glendora car wash and while your sedan was under the dryer, the check engine light started flashing. Panic! What did you just do? Something is seriously wrong with the sedan! You head for the nearest Glendora service station, but on the way, the check engine light stops flashing, and just glows red. Hmm. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. You decide to wait until payday to take your sedan in to get serviced. In the meantime, the check engine light goes off. What? You decide the light must be faulty, or that when it comes on it doesn’t mean anything, or that it’s just in your sedan as some sort of scam to get you to pay for unnecessary costly repairs. You’re glad you didn’t take your car to the Glendora repair shop and resolve to ignore that engine light in the future.

Whoa! Let’s look at what really happened. Your sedan was under an air dryer. Your air intake sensor measured too much air running through the engine. It sent its report to the engine computer, where a warning was triggered: there shouldn’t be that much airflow when the sedan engine is idling. This is a serious problem that could cause permanent engine damage. Warning! The check engine light starts flashing, letting you know you need to take immediate action to prevent that damage.

You drive out from under the dryer, and the air intake sensor sends a new message to the computer. The computer realizes that everything is normal and tells the check engine light to stop flashing. The sedan doesn’t need immediate attention; but there was a problem, and it should be checked out by your service advisor. After a few days the computer senses that the problem is gone, so it turns off the warning light.

You may think this story illustrates the uselessness of a check engine light, but you should remember that a computer can’t think for itself, it can only follow its programming. It doesn’t know the difference between a car wash air dryer and a serious malfunction in your sedan engine. That doesn’t make it useless. It just means you have to be the smart one.

Being smart doesn’t mean ignoring your sedan check engine light. It lets you know when something is wrong, and you can prevent a lot of damage to your vehicle by paying proper attention to it.

Your engine computer is constantly collecting data about what is going on inside your sedan engine. It knows what parameters are normal, and when a reading may indicate a problem. It uses the check engine light to let you know when something isn’t right. It then stores a code in its memory that a tech can retrieve that indicates which reading was abnormal.

The service specialist uses this code as a starting place to find out what’s wrong with your sedan. It’s like going to the doctor with a fever. The fever is the reading that is abnormal — your temperature is too high — but the doctor still has to figure out what’s causing it. It’s probably an infection, but what kind? Sinus infection? Appendicitis? Flu? The problems and their solutions are quite different. But a fever also tells a doctor what’s NOT wrong with you. Fevers don’t accompany stress headaches, ulcers or arthritis, so there’s no sense in testing for those conditions.

Your Glendora service specialist responds to a trouble code in your sedan’s computer in the same way. The code doesn’t say exactly what’s wrong, but it does give the technician a good indication of where to start looking —and where he/she doesn’t need to look.

Now, you wouldn’t consider diagnosing yourself with a serious medical problem; good medical advice — unless you’re a doctor. So you shouldn’t consider trying to diagnose your vehicle’s troubles by yourself; good auto advice — unless you’re a trained mechanic.

There are cheap scanners available on the market and some Glendora auto parts stores offer to read trouble codes from your sedan engine computer for you, but these are really not good alternatives to taking your vehicle to a qualified service center such as Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora. Your engine’s computer has both short-term and long-term memory, and there are some codes that are specific to a particular make of vehicle. Cheap scanners can’t read an engine computer’s long-term memory nor can they interpret manufacturer – specific codes. That’s why manager Gene Morrill at Certified Auto Specialists spends a lot of money on high-end diagnostic tools.

It’s as if you had a choice between a doctor who had a tongue depressor and a thermometer and one who had all the latest medical diagnostic equipment on hand. Honestly, which would you choose?

Getting your codes read at your Los Angeles auto parts store isn’t really a money-saver, either, unless you’re a trained mechanic. You’ll end up with a code that tells you a symptom. What usually happens next is that the Los Angeles parts store sells you something that directly relates to the symptom. It may or may not fix the problem. It’s actually cheaper to just go to the Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora and get things fixed right the first time.

Remember, a fever can indicate a sinus infection or appendicitis. An antibiotic may be okay for that sinus infection, but it won’t help your appendicitis. Is it really wise to wait around to see if the antibiotic helps when you might have appendicitis?

Part of good car care is knowing where you can get a problem fixed, and fixed right. Preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping you out of the repair shop, but eventually, we will all have a problem that needs fixing. Let’s do it right the first time at Certified Auto Specialists. In the long run, it’s actually the less expensive choice.

Automotive Detective Work In Glendora

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There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Glendora. Figuring out what’s wrong with your sedan has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your sedan’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Glendora car owners because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Glendora doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Glendora motorists can do a lot to help out their reliable Certified Auto Specialists service professional in figuring out what’s wrong with their sedan. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Glendora service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Glendora service professional.

If fluid is leaking from your sedan, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your sedan is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Certified Auto Specialists service professional, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your sedan’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Glendora auto owners.

If your sedan is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your service advisor often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your reliable service professional to get your sedan to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Glendora and then get it repaired.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Los Angeles repair shop, but if you need to get it fixed, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

The Certified Auto Specialists Guide To Vehicle Diagnosis

Why is my check engine light on?

Modern Glendora vehicles have several computers on board that control all kinds of things like engine functions, transmission shifts, traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, emissions – and on some vehicles, even steering, braking and the throttle.

Think about that for a minute – things that used to be controlled by simple mechanical connections now have electronic controls that rely on computers, software and sensors. It’s no wonder that when something goes wrong with their sedan it can be pretty complicated for Glendora auto owners to track down the source of the problem.

To help your Certified Auto Specialists service specialist figure out what’s wrong, your sedan is equipped with on-board diagnostics. The Check Engine Light comes on to tell you there’s a problem and the engine management computer stores a trouble code. Your reliable Certified Auto Specialists service specialist connects a scan tool to your vehicle’s diagnostic port and retrieves the trouble codes as well as other important data.

Trouble codes are like clues for the Los Angeles technician to follow as he diagnoses what’s wrong with your sedan. In a way, it’s like going to your Glendora doctor with a problem. She’ll run some additional tests and gather the information she needs to make a diagnosis and form a treatment plan. How much a vehicle diagnosis costs at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora depends on how much time it takes to sort out the symptoms and find the underlying problem.

Give us a call

Certified Auto Specialists
626-963-0814
476 Vermont Avenue
Glendora, California 91741

We Are Open To Serve You.  Please Call 626.541.2149 For Service.

We Will Pick Up and Deliver Your Vehicle For Service At No Additional Charge Upon Request.