There are a lot of questions about inspecting a car when it comes into a shop for service.
In years past vehicle manufacturers suggested you change your oil every 3,000 miles. That meant you visited a service facility 3-4 times a year; that was 3-4 times a year that your technician had the opportunity to look over your car and catch potential failures in your vehicle’s tires, wipers, brakes, fluids, leaks or any other concerns.
Today, the vehicle manufacturers are now extending oil and servicing to 7, 10, and even 15 thousand miles. This also extends the time your technician gets a look under the hood of your vehicle. This gives your technician less times per year to inspect and identify issues with your vehicle.
Consider air transportation; a jetliner goes through a safety inspection before each flight. In fact, all public transportation including planes, trains, and city busses all go through a certification and regular inspection process to find, identify, and fix potential problems before they happen.
Benefits of an Inspection
Our personal vehicles, on the other hand, usually see their technician for oil changes and maybe get a check over every few years. Just as regular oil changes keep your car healthy, having a professional inspection done on a regular basis will save you time, money and avoid the headaches of major mechanical repairs.
A basic inspection can be simple, fast, and efficient. It will allow the technician to fill your tires, top off your fluids and give you peace of mind when you are on the road.
Talk to your service professional about a scheduled inspection program to supplement your vehicle’s service plan.
Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 or contact us online with any questions and we will be glad to help!
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.
You will almost always see your oil pressure warning light illuminate briefly when you first start your car. It goes off almost immediately. If it doesn’t you need to turn off your car and check the engine oil level. If it is low, add some oil then turn the car back on. If the light goes off and stays off you are good to go. If it is still illuminated do not drive the vehicle, turn it off immediately and call us as soon as possible. This may require a tow.
When The Temperature Light Illuminates
A temperature warning light is telling you that your engine is overheating. Pull over and turn your car off immediately! Do not check anything yourself until the engine has sat for at least half an hour. Attempting to remove the radiator cap before then can result in serious steam and water burns. If you know what you are doing you can remove the cap and check the coolant mixture level when it is safe to do so and add the appropriate 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. Also be sure to check for leaks. Internal leaks can only be checked by pressure testing. Unless you are experienced in this area of car repair, it is best to call us! We will arrange a tow to our shop and get this fixed for you!
When The Brake Light Illuminates
The brake warning light comes on and stays on when you engage the parking or emergency brake. Check that first! If you disengage the parking brake and the light goes off, you are fine. It can also mean you have a fluid leak. This causes your brakes to fail or veer to one side when applied. Get your brake fluid checked as soon as possible. (If you have an ABS or the antilock brake light illuminates and remains on it is telling you there is a problem within this system.) Though you can drive with this situation, get it checked out as soon as you can because this is a critical system in an emergency or on slick roads. If both the ABS and brake warning light are on and stay on at the same time do not drive the vehicle until it has been looked at by us.
When The Alternator Light Illuminates
If your alternator warning light is on it is most likely telling you that your charging system is not working properly. You need to get this taken care of sooner rather than later as your battery will die. It could be indicating another problem such as a slipping drive belt but either way, it needs to be checked out as soon as you can.
When The Check Engine Light Illuminates
That orange light used to put fear in the hearts of drivers but now it seems drivers are more than capable of ignoring it mile after mile. This is because most of the time it is just telling you your gas cap isn’t on tight enough or some other small item. Of course this small item causes you to waste fuel and pollute the environment so it really isn’t insignificant. It is always best to have your vehicle looked at as the check engine light means something is wrong and a diagnosis is definitely called for. Whenever a light on your dash illuminates and doesn’t go off after a few seconds you can also refer to your owner’s manual. It generally explains the meaning behind the illumination and if it is safe to continue driving until you can get your vehicle serviced or repaired. You can always call us at any time as well. We are here to help!
When Thermostats Go Bad
The vehicles we drive these days are very high tech so when I mentioned that the thermostat is basically operated by the heating and cooling of wax people are shocked. Thermostats rarely give us problems so I guess most people just don’t think about them. Its function is to keep the car warm but cool the engine block. Thermostats seldom go bad but when they do, look out! This occurs when the wax stops working so the valve doesn’t open. This can happen when:
It was damaged in a prior overheating experience
Corrosion sets in
It just gets old
When one or all of these things happen your vehicle will overheat. Should the valve fail to close, stick in the open position, due to a piece of debris or the breaking of the return spring you have another problem. This allows coolant to keep flowing through the thermostat. It will not reach the proper operating temperature when this happens and you might notice the gauge reading lower than normal or the heater not as hot as it used to be. If the thermostat does stick open you will notice because of poor driveability during cooler weather, you will use more fuel as much as 2 to 3MPG more and the car will spew out more pollutants out the tailpipe than designed.
Why A Vehicle Inspection Is Important
In the automotive service and repair industry we as owners and our staff do our best to keep our customers’ vehicles in excellent condition. Not only do we want to keep you safe on the highways, we want to keep the others you share the road with safe as well. The majority of our customers want to know that everything is in proper working order. Every now and then we hear stories about consumers who think inspections or a “laundry list” as they call it, was done in order to make a bigger sale. This is not the case in most shops and those that practice selling services that aren’t needed don’t stay in business very long! We feel it is our duty to point out any potential hazards because our customers rely on us, as the experts in automotive maintenance, to tell them if their vehicle needs work. You can count on us!
A Little TLC Keeps Your Beloved Vehicle Going and Going and Going…
Many of you love your car! You pamper it, you keep it clean inside and out and you want it to live a good long life. The newness may have worn off a few years ago but that doesn’t matter…you’ve bonded with this vehicle. Some people keep their vehicles a very long time…over 200,000 miles and counting. If you love your car and you want to keep it longer, don’t fret. It is very possible. All it takes is some tender, loving care!
Throughout our many years of experience we have learned that taking certain preventive measures, such as timely oil changes and multi-point inspections, enable you to keep your car going and going. Call us today…together we can keep it going!
Don’t Worry…Your Warranty Is Safe
When choosing to have your vehicle serviced by an independent, you may feel your warranty could be in jeopardy. There is no need to be concerned about the validity of your warranty or quality service. Many consumers don’t realize that it is actually a law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) that an independent repair shop can service your car and you will not be jeopardizing your warranty in any way. Just like you have to do with the dealership, you need to keep records of services and have them done as recommended in your owner’s manual. Most independent shop owners, such as ours, can provide you with the same excellent service you have been receiving from your dealership. Independents, like the dealerships, have ASE certified technicians, quality parts and service, state-of-the-art tools and equipment, dedication to customer service, and on-going training to keep current with the latest vehicle innovations. So stop worrying! We’ve got you covered!
How To Have A Lean Mean Driving Machine
Cars are built better than ever these days and give us miles of service. Keeping them healthy is important and extends their life. Oil is their lifeblood. Dirty oil makes it harder for your engine to turn over and causes premature engine wear. Belts and hoses are made of very durable material with relatively long lives but they do deteriorate over time. Leaks are not normal except for condensation from your air conditioner. 11 different fluids keep your car running; brake fluid, antifreeze, engine oil, power steering fluid, air conditioner refrigerant, shock absorber fluid, battery electrolyte, windshield washer solvent, rear axle or CV boot lubricant and fuel. If any of these leaks, they need to be fixed right away. Tires need to be kept properly inflated and rotated to save gas and tire wear. Coolant, when neglected can corrode and leave sediment throughout your cooling system causing clogging that results in damaging hot spots than can harm your engine. The battery needs to have the cables securely attached and free of corrosion in order to get power to the starter and accessories so the alternator receives a charge.
Keep your care lean and mean by getting it serviced regularly.
My Vehicle…How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways!
I love thee enough to take thee regularly for automotive servicing! Okay…I just felt the need for a little humor. Seriously though…and I am a very serious person when it comes to vehicle care…you need to love your car! Think of all it does for you each and every day. Think how lost you feel without it when it breaks down. Think of the pain of paying for a high repair cost because you neglected to have it serviced. I want you to drive safely and I want you to pay for servicing your car rather than paying the much higher cost of repairing it. I want to think of you getting from point A to point B safely. I don’t want to see you with your vehicle broken down on the side of the road. I don’t want to see your vehicle dangling from a tow truck when it could all have been prevented. I prefer to see you save your hard-earned dollars by having regular preventive maintenance instead of costly repair. If you have been putting off servicing, now is the time to show your vehicle some love!
Speak To Me!
Do you ever wish your car could just tell you when something is wrong with it? In its own way it does speak to you. When it suddenly is acting, smelling, sounding, or dripping differently than it usually does it is telling you it isn’t feeling well.
I get calls all the time saying that their car is making a ka-thump noise or a pinging noise or it is knocking or sputtering, whining or screeching. Regular vehicle checkups prevent these symptoms from happening and keep your vehicle healthy. If your vehicle is trying to speak to you, listen and call for an appointment today.
The Hazards of Running on Fumes
When your car beeps a warning about low fuel, listen to it! Put gas in as soon as you can because that reserve fuel keeps your fuel pump from taking in the “bottom of the barrel” fuel which is full of debris. This sediment in the bottom of the fuel tank can also clog the fuel filter, fuel injectors as well as the pump pickup. I generally don’t let my tank get below 1/4 tank for this reason. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!
Tires keep us and our car off the highway. It has been that way since Henry Ford’s Model A. Tires are, after all, the only part of the car that actually touches the road. That is a good reason to keep them as healthy as possible. Tire rotations and proper inflation should be part of your regular preventive maintenance routine. This seemingly simple act of swapping the tires around plus proper inflation keeps them from having extensive wear and tear and prolongs their life. Call today to give your tires a long and healthy life!
Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation for us Glendora motorists then ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting an automotive analysis at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora. After all, you wouldn’t travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of dangerous dirty oil?
The first step in a trip inspection at Certified Auto Specialists is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the California backcountry or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How many miles away from Glendora will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help Glendora auto owners confirm which Certified Auto Specialists services are the most needed. And don’t hesitate to communicate with your Certified Auto Specialists service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your car and what kinds of services your vehicle realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.
Then survey your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You’ll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to check your alignment. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don’t overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.
In addition, review belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.
Change your engine air filter if it needs it or if it’s close to needing it. For every gallon of gas you burn, your air filter processes 12,000 gallons of air. A clean air filter will protect critical electronic sensors that effect how your engine runs.
Get an oil change at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora if it’s coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you’re at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Glendora drivers don’t want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with detrimental dirty fluid during a long trip.
Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don’t ignore bad odors; check them out.
If your air conditioning hasn’t been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.
And be sure to inspect your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You’ll want to be able to see as much as possible.
Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of important preventive maintenance for smart Glendora car owners. If you keep up with your car care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at Certified Auto Specialists.
Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better gas mileage. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don’t forget to pack your socks.
Part of the engineering that goes into designing a vehicle is testing the components to ensure that they meet durability and safety standards. Because of this, manufacturers have a good idea as to how long the parts in your vehicle will last under normal driving conditions. For this reason, they give us guidelines to follow regarding how often to inspect the various parts and systems on our sedans.
Vehicular components are required to meet certain standards. The government mandates some of these standards. Others are set by the auto industry. Recommended car maintenance schedules are designed to help Glendora car owners maintain these standards. Disregarding routine maintenance or procrastinating preventive maintenance will result in lowered performance and reduced safety for a vehicle.
Maintenance schedules are designed to ensure three areas of critical automotive performance for Glendora car owners: protection of the vehicle itself, fuel economy, and safety.
Your vehicle’s components need protection from dirt, road damage, rust, corrosion and fuel and combustion by products. Protective components include filters and fluids.
Most of the fluids in your sedan are there to keep the vehicle running smoothly and to protect the vehicle from corrosion, damage or harmful contaminants. These fluids need to be changed regularly in order to continue protecting your sedan.
For example, motor oil lubricates your engine, when keeps it running well, but it also contains detergents and other additives that clean your engine and protect it from corrosion. Your vehicle’s engine was engineered for best performance with a specific weight and type of motor oil. Glendora auto owners should always be careful to use the right motor oil for their engine.
Over time, the critical additives in motor oil are depleted, and the oil becomes contaminated by dirt, water and waste gases from combustion. So in order to keep your engine clean and to continue to protect it from corrosion, the oil has to be changed periodically.
Over time, your vehicle’s systems will get dirty and parts will wear down. Cleaning dirty systems and replacing worn parts will improve the efficiency of your vehicle, which is usually measured in terms of fuel efficiency and power output.
For example, your fuel system components gradually get clogged up with gum and varnish from gasoline. This restricts fuel flow, which lowers your engine’s efficiency. Gas mileage drops as a result. Cleaning your fuel system will restore fuel efficiency and improve gas mileage.
Some of your sedan’s systems must be maintained for safety reasons. Your brakes are a prime example of this. Brake pads and brake fluid need to be replaced in order to ensure good braking power. Poorly maintained brakes lead to accidents for Glendora car owners.
Your owner’s manual is your first resource when it comes to knowing when and how to maintain your sedan. Of course, you can consult with a your Certified Auto Specialists service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on how to adjust your service schedule to account for climate, local road conditions and your driving distances.
Beyond routine maintenance, your vehicle also requires regular inspections. These inspections are usually recommended at specific mileage intervals, like fifteen or twenty thousand miles. The interval is based on the known life expectancy for particular components in your sedan. Regular inspections will identify vehicular components that need to be repaired or replaced before damage is done to the vehicle or safety is compromised. They are also designed to safeguard the efficiency and performance of your vehicle.
The multi-point inspection that comes with a full-service oil change does not cover all of the regular inspections your vehicle needs for peak performance and safety. Check with the automotive professionals at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora to find out what additional inspections your vehicle needs and how often. Good car care requires regular and consistent maintenance. But good maintenance pays for itself in better MPG and fewer pricey repairs. It may even save your life.
There are a lot of things in life that Glendora residents have to do on a regular basis. We wash dishes every day, do our laundry and mow our lawns every week, and pay the bills every month. We should go to our Glendora dentist twice a year and see our doctor for a check-up once a year. When we don’t stay on schedule with these routines, it can lead to embarrassing, painful or expensive consequences.
Scheduled maintenance is also part of good car care. Glendora drivers should take their sedans in regularly for a good check-up. But many Los Angeles folks struggle to remember, or actually even ignore, this auto advice. When it comes to our cars, we’re more likely to listen to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” than “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yet it is the second adage that is the more applicable one.
Regular brushing treatments prevent cavities. Filling a cavity prevents a more painful and more expensive root canal. In the same way, replacing coolant/antifreeze, for example, vehicle can prevent cooling system leaks. Repairing leaks can prevent engine failure. So why do we procrastinate?
One reason might be that “ignorance is bliss.” We can see dirty dishes on the counter and how long our grass is getting; we can smell how dirty our clothes are; but we don’t notice how dirty our transmission fluid is getting. However, trouble in our sedans is like trouble in our bodies—ignorance is not bliss. High blood pressure can lead to heart damage, and inadequate coolant can lead to engine damage. However, we can’t know about either one unless we take the time for a diagnostic check-up at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora.
Another reason us Glendora car owners put off scheduled maintenance for our vehicles may be that we are simply intimidated by automotive care. After all, we understand how to take care of clothing, dishes, lawns, etc. Most of us have a basic working knowledge of our bodies and feel qualified to explain how we feel. But our vehicles? What exactly does routine, preventive maintenance involve? Most Glendora auto owners don’t know.
Of course, our sedans come with owner’s manuals that do a good job of explaining what routine maintenance is and how often our vehicles need it. But how many Glendora drivers actually read them?
The good news is that all Glendora drivers have to do is remember to take our vehicles to a reputable, service center like Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora. Like a good doctor, your reliable Certified Auto Specialists service specialist will be able to tell you what maintenance and service your car needs and when. The service center can track your car’s maintenance records—just as a doctor maintains your health records—so that your vehicle is getting the service it needs in a timely manner.
Here are some guidelines to help Glendora drivers understand the basics of preventive maintenance: Fluids. If it’s a liquid, it has to be replaced regularly. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often. Liquids include oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and differential fluid. There may be others. Check with your owner’s manual or your service center for specifics on your vehicle.
Tires. They need routine, scheduled care to wear well. Primarily, they need air. But they also need to be rotated, balanced and aligned.
Brakes. Brakes and shock absorbers wear out. There’s no way to avoid it. Worn parts need to be replaced.
Fuel. Obviously your sedan needs gas on a regular basis. But the fuel system also needs periodic maintenance. Air filters and fuel filters get dirty and need to be replaced. The fuel system needs to be kept clean.
These are the basics of car maintenance. Of course, there are other parts of your car that need to be inspected regularly, such as the battery, exhaust system, belts, etc. These parts have longer life cycles than your fluids, tires, brakes and filters, and so don’t need to be replaced as often.
If you are taking your sedan in for the basics, then your Glendora service center will let you know when it is time for an inspection of these other things. Or they may notice a problem when doing routine maintenance and let you know. Either way, you’ll get a heads-up when your vehicle needs more attention.
If you’re not convinced yet that your sedan needs regular service, consider this: not doing so will cost you in decreased fuel economy, lower performance and compromised safety. These could lead to pricey repair bills and costly accidents.
Just like a good dental check-up, a good auto check-up at Certified Auto Specialists in Glendora can save you from experiencing embarrassing, costly and painful situations.
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.