Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

Servicing Costa Mesa, and all of Orange County since 1999

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center - Servicing Costa Mesa, and all of Orange County since 1999

Check Your Shocks and Struts at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

Today we’re talking about shocks and struts. They’re so easy to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they’re very important.

Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting in corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling.

Visit Costa Mesa Auto Service Center to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional. You can find us at 1749 Anaheim Avenue, COSTA MESA, CA 92627
Or give us a call at 949.645.7878 to make an appointment.

There’s a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axles. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.

When your shocks are worn out you may notice degraded handling as you drive around our COSTA MESA streets. Your vehicle feels squirmy around corners and floaty over bumps.

You may notice the rear end squatting when you accelerate or the front end diving when you brake. Your car might even be sagging at one corner.

Uneven tire wear can also be a sign of worn shocks. Of course, if your shocks are leaking or have a big dent, they need to be replaced.

Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation for when to replace the shocks and struts on your vehicle. It’s usually between thirty and fifty thousand miles. Of course, if you tow a lot, regularly carry heavy loads or do a lot of driving on poor roads, your shocks might wear out faster.

If those driving conditions apply to you, you can get special shocks that are better suited to your driving.

The shocks that come from the factory are designed for the way most consumers are expected to drive that particular vehicle. If you have different needs for your driving around COSTA MESA CA, you can get premium shocks that improve performance handling, off-road abilities or towing comfort. Your COSTA MESA CA service consultant at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center can help you determine your needs and then give you some options.

It’s best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you’ll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.

Fuel Saving Tip: Check Engine Light

Here’s a question for COSTA MESA, CA auto owners: How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your check engine light?

Hey, it’s not there to create ambiance; it’s a warning that something’s wrong. (And, by the way, Homer Simpson’s fix of covering it with tape is not a good idea.)

If your check engine light comes on, check your gas cap. A loose gas cap can cause a false sensor reading that’ll make the check engine light turn on.

Check Engine Light Many conditions that trigger the check engine light can hurt your fuel economy. A lot.

If your date’s eyes are smoldering in the soft glow of the check engine light, try to think of all the gas money you’ll save by getting it fixed. Give Costa Mesa Auto Service Center a call when you are ready: 949.645.7878

Is Your COSTA MESA Driving Severe?

People near COSTA MESA CA often ask Costa Mesa Auto Service Center how often they should have a particular service done. It’s a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner’s manual, or have your COSTA MESA CA service advisor at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in COSTA MESA CA will say that their driving is normal and that the ‘regular’ schedule probably applies to them. ‘Severe service’ sounds pretty extreme – ‘I don’t drive like that’.

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles.
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • Drive with a car-top carrier.
  • Stop and go driving.
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather.

If that’s severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I’m thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I’m on the freeway.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around COSTA MESA. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here’s what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with ‘regular’ on one end and ‘severe’ on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it’s closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it’s closer to 5,000 miles. Your COSTA MESA CA auto service advisor at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren’t as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don’t drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won’t evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You’ve made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

What To Do After You Buy a Used Vehicle in COSTA MESA

So you’ve bought a used car in the COSTA MESA area. Do you know what you’re getting? It is hard to know what you’re getting because people in the COSTA MESA area sell cars for different reasons. Think about why you’ve sold cars. Did you just want something new or were there problems that you wanted to run away from. Maybe it was a little of both.

Used cars with 25,000 to 35,000 miles on them are often lease returns, Irvine corporate program cars or rental fleet vehicles. Most Irvine buyers feel pretty confident about these because they’re newer and may still be under warranty. But how well have they been maintained?

If you plan on owning a car for a long time, you’ll keep up on the auto maintenance so that you can avoid costly repairs down the road. But, if you know you’re only going to have the car for two or three years, you may not be so committed to maintenance. It would be easy to think that skipping an oil change here and there wouldn’t ruin a brand new engine. Then it’ll be someone else’s problem when it comes time to pay for the damage.

It would be very tempting to skip the 30,000 mile service if you knew you’d be turning in your leased vehicle in a couple of months.

If the vehicle didn’t come with maintenance records, you need to assume the worst. Most likely the coolant system and transmission have never been serviced. The cabin air filter has probably not been changed and a fuel system cleaning may be in order.

You’ll want Costa Mesa Auto Service Center to check the air conditioning, battery, engine air filter, serpentine belt and hoses. A used car inspection at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center is well worth the cost.

And if your “new” used vehicle has more miles on it, an inspection is even more important. Check your owner’s manual or talk with your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service professional (call 949.645.7878) about what should have been done. Please don’t forget the timing belt; that can be very costly if it fails.

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center will help you with a plan to take care of vital services and get the rest caught up. If your budget won’t allow you to take care of everything right away, we can help you prioritize your needs and get it taken care of over the next several months. And remember to keep your maintenance records. They’ll help you get top dollar on the CA used car market when it’s time for you to sell.

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center
1749 Anaheim Avenue
COSTA MESA, CA 92627
949.645.7878

Differential Service At Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in COSTA MESA, who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we’re asked is: “What is a differential and what does it do?” You may have been told by your Costa Mesa Auto Service Center tech that your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center covers a lot of things, so let’s first talk about what a differential does.

As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track – the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don’t hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow on Irvine highways. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels – which is why they’re often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they’ll last.

All vehicles in COSTA MESA have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is sometimes called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you will have a differential in the front and the back – and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your automobile manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed.

Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Irvine tech can give you more information as to when your next differential service is recommended. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.

As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions in the Irvine area, you will want to service your differential more frequently. “Severe service” conditions are defined in most owners’ manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold CA weather, hot weather and towing. All these factors add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in CA can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit http://www.costamesaautoservicecenter.com/contact.html for more information.

Power Steering Service Near Irvine

Most of us living in the Irvine area are too young to remember life before power steering – cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let’s look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine – a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.

These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea to inspect them at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners’ manual for the right type – or just ask your considerate tech at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center.

The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so COSTA MESA motorists need to replace it from time to time. Many automobile manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us in Irvine. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your Costa Mesa Auto Service Center tech will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.

Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It’s harder to turn the wheel, there’s erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump real fast.

Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center will reveal bent or damaged steering components.

Most SUV’s, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.

The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. It’s also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners’ manual maintenance schedule. It’s usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water in the Irvine area, the bearings will need service more often.

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center
1749 Anaheim Avenue
COSTA MESA, CA 92627
949.645.7878

Air Conditioning Service In COSTA MESA

Hey Irvine! Let’s talk about one of our CA summertime must-haves: your car A/C. It’s real easy for COSTA MESA motorists to take their car’s air conditioner for granted. Just push the right buttons and out comes cool, dry, clean air. But your air conditioning system needs attention from time to time to help it keep its cool.

Do you hear loud noises under the hood when you turn on your car air conditioner? Do you only get cool air sporadically? If so, it is time to get your air conditioner checked. 

When most Irvine folks hear the words “air conditioning problems“, it sends a shiver up their spine. That is because the air conditioning system is fairly complex. It has a lot of parts and when it’s broken, it’s expensive to repair.

What things can COSTA MESA and Huntington Beach motorists do to prevent air conditioning breakdowns?

A common cause of air conditioning failure is leaks. Water and air can leak into the system. It doesn’t work as well with air in it and water can cause rust that leads to damage of the car A/C components. Also, refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to cool the air. Periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.

Corona Del Mar motorists should run their air conditioner regularly, even during CA winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out, which leads to leaks. Your owner’s manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Of course, if it’s not working right, now is the time to get it checked. Costa Mesa Auto Service Center can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This helps you avoid major repairs.

New environmental laws have stopped the manufacture of Freon, a refrigerant that was common in cars made before 1993. There is a very limited supply of Freon so the price is very steep. It may not be worth its weight in gold, but it probably is worth its weight in silver. If you have an older vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new R134-A refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run. So, if your A/C is just a lot of hot air, bring it in to Costa Mesa Auto Service Center for an inspection.

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center
1749 Anaheim Avenue
COSTA MESA, CA 92627
949.645.7878

Severe Service Requirements

A lot of Irvine drivers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners’ manual. It can be somewhat confusing, so we decided to consult an expert. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She’s been in the automotive business for 24 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer.

Cricket says there’s so much confusion on this topic because, “Most owners’ manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called ‘regular service’ and ‘severe service’. Sometimes they’re simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.”

Foreign and domestic car makers create a specific schedule for each vehicle they manufacture. So there isn’t one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners’ manual, COSTA MESA automotive repair centers (including Costa Mesa Auto Service Center) subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle – so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.

  • Most trips are less than four miles
  • Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive regularly in very hot CA weather
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the expressway)
  • Stop and go driving
  • You drive in in dusty or muddy conditions
  • You routinely tow a trailer, haul heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier

It’s common sense: Just a few minutes at expressway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it’s very cold in COSTA MESA, don’t allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to break down faster. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.

The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving habits. Look at your owners’ manual, or talk with your Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. Costa Mesa Auto Service Center is located at 1749 Anaheim Avenue, COSTA MESA CA.

Here is what a fleet manager said recently: “Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer’s severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.

Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly CA highway driving in moderate weather, you’ll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some COSTA MESA drivers just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.

Fuel Injectors

The last new American car sold in COSTA MESA with a carburetor rolled out of the CA dealership in 1990. Since then, all new vehicles here in COSTA MESA and nationally have had fuel injectors. In very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much gas to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course this happens thousands of times a minute. Fuel injectors deliver fuel far more precisely than carburetors. That translates into better gas mileage and more power. Virtually all fuel injectors for gas engines are known as port fuel injectors because they deliver the fuel to a port just outside the cylinder. Port fuel injectors operate at about 40 to 80 pounds per square inch of pressure.

A few vehicle manufacturers have introduced gas direct injection systems on some engines recently. These systems inject the gas directly into the cylinders under very high pressure – hundreds of times the pressure of port injection systems. Although more complicated, direct injection technology promises greater power with improved fuel economy, so Irvine drivers can expect to see more of it in the future.

As you can see, the level of precision required of your fuel injectors is very high. They need to be operating properly in order for your car to run right.

High temperatures under your hood and variations in COSTA MESA gas quality cause fuel injectors to become fouled with wax, dirt, and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure. The design of each engine requires a specific spray pattern from the fuel injector that might be altered when the injector is dirty. When injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn’t burn as efficiently resulting in poor gas mileage and loss of power. So it is important to keep your sedan fuel injectors clean.

Skilled service technicians at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA can perform a fuel system service for you. (Visit http://www.costamesaautoservicecenter.com/contact.html.) That is a fuel system service – not just fuel injector cleaning. That is because the fuel has a lot of ways to become dirty or contaminated between the COSTA MESA gas pump and your fuel injectors. A fuel system service starts with a fuel filter replacement. This filter cleans the gas as it leaves the tank. The various parts of the fuel intake system need to be cleaned from time to time to remove harmful gum, deposits and varnish. Finally, the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.

Your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center tech uses a process for cleaning your sedan fuel system that includes state-of-the-art cleaning chemicals as well as some old fashioned scrubbing. Proper maintenance of your fuel system means that you will enjoyed improved gas mileage, enjoy strong performance and prevent pricey repairs down the road.

PCV Valve Replacement

Hello COSTA MESA auto owners, let’s talk about your often-unnoticed but extremely important PCV valve. The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Irvine folks know that sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up, eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure build up would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out.

Pre-1963, gasoline engines had a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. (Can you imagine how polluted our Irvine air would be if every car had been releasing those poisonous fumes for the last fifty years?) Diesel engines are not required to have these valves.

The positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh, clean air is brought into the crankcase through a breather tube. It’s really a pretty simple system, but it does the job. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil, but the engine as well. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing oil leaks.

Eventually, the PCV valve can get gummed up
. Then it can’t move enough air through the engine to keep it working properly. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, you could have oil leaks, excess oil consumption and a fouled intake system. If you experience hesitation or surging or an oil leak, it may be a sign of PCV valve problems. Your owners’ manual may give a recommendation for when the PCV valve should be replaced – usually between 20,000 mi/32,000 km and 50,000 mi/80,000 km. Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t list a recommendation in the manual, so it can be easy to overlook.

Many PCV system problems can be diagnosed with an inspection by your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center technician. Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency. So now when your COSTA MESA service technician tells you its time to replace your PCV valve, you will know what he’s talking about. If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you’ve ever heard of a PCV value, ask your technician to check yours out or call Costa Mesa Auto Service Center at 949.645.7878.