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 Engine Light Diagnosis At Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

Hello COSTA MESA auto owners. Have you ever had your check engine light come on? Did you panic? Or just scowl and ignore it? What should you do? Pull to the side of the road and call a tow truck? Or just keep driving? What does that little light really mean for COSTA MESA car owners?

First of all, the Check Engine or Service Engine light does indicate that something is wrong. That’s why it is called a warning light. But the something that is wrong might be a loose gas cap, or it might be serious sedan engine trouble. That’s why Irvine motorists often don’t know how to respond to it.

The check engine light has two modes: it flashes or it stays on. A flashing light is serious. You need to get your vehicle to Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA ASAP. No, you don’t need to call a tow truck, but, yes, you can’t wait to get your car serviced. If your check engine light is on and flashing, you should not tow trailers, haul heavy loads or drive at CA highway speeds. Any of these could lead to serious damage that could result pricey repair bills for COSTA MESA motorists who ignore it.

A steady check engine light is less serious, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored by Costa Mesa drivers. You should plan to get your vehicle inspected at your local COSTA MESA automotive service center the first realistic opportunity. Not the first convenient opportunity, but the first realistic one.

Before you take your sedan in, however, check the gas cap. A loose gas cap can trigger the check engine light. If it is loose, twist it until it clicks three times. If that was the problem, your COSTA MESA engine light will reset after several days. However, if it stays on, then you need to schedule an inspection at your COSTA MESA auto repair center center or Costa Mesa Auto Service Center.

Modern automobiles have a computer in the engine that monitors and controls many of the engine functions. When the computer senses something wrong, it first tries to fix the problem itself by adjusting the sedan engine. If the problem persists, the computer signals the check engine light to come on.

This process stores a trouble code inside the sedan engine’s computer. Your technician scans the computer and reads the code. This does not tell the tech exactly what is wrong with the car, but it gives him a good idea as to where to start looking.

It is NOT good auto advice to deal with a check engine light by disconnecting the battery. Yes, this makes the light go off, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It’s rather like trying to put out a fire by disconnecting the smoke detector. Also, disconnecting the battery will erase your sedan’s computer memory. An engine’s computer, over time, learns to adjust for peculiarities of the specific sedan engine, for driving conditions in your Corona Del Mar area, and for your driving habits. Losing its memory means it has to learn and adjust for these things all over again.

Also, don’t buy a cheap consumer scanner or get a trouble code read at your nearest COSTA MESA auto parts store, then try to fix a problem yourself — unless, of course, you are a trained Irvine mechanic. Today’s auto repair equipment is fairly high-tech and knowing a code is only an indication of where a problem might be, not the answer to what is wrong. Trying to save a little money by doing it yourself may end up costing you big in the long run.

Of course, the best thing to do is to keep that pesky check engine light from coming on in the first place. Good car care and routine preventive maintenance go a long way to keeping your sedan out of your COSTA MESA auto repair shop. But, if that light does come on, be smart. Take care of the problem early, and take care of it professionally.

Protecting Your sedan From Theft In COSTA MESA, CA

Every car in COSTA MESA, CA is at risk for theft. So it’s up to us COSTA MESA car owners to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles:

  1. Common sense
  2. Visible and audible devices
  3. Immobilizing devices
  4. Tracking devices

Let’s review each of these. First, common sense: you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen in CA where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it’s against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.

And don’t leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. COSTA MESA car owners would be wise to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.

COSTA MESA drivers should know that it’s essential to roll up their windows completely and avoid leaving their car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.

Keep valuables out of sight: purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive “smash-and-grab” targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.

There are lots of important visible and audible devices available for COSTA MESA motorists. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what’s going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.

Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don’t approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.

And here’s a great one – immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car’s electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can’t drive your car away.

Finally, COSTA MESA motorists can also get a tracking device that allows COSTA MESA police to track their car down and recover it quickly.

Remember, where you live, work and drive around COSTA MESA, CA has a great impact on your decisions. If you’re in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your COSTA MESA, CA auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.

Of course, the common sense suggestions from Costa Mesa Auto Service Center don’t cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves. Take a look at the attached video auto tip from AutoNetTV.

Come see us at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA for practical advice on keeping your sedan safe.

Have You Checked Your Headlights?

Like everything on the Irvine automotive market, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. CA motorists can be safer at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility on Irvine freeways, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as COSTA MESA’s population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.

Most new sedans sold in Irvine come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on COSTA MESA expressways, they’re very bright and have a bluish tint.

From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many COSTA MESA motorists complain about HID lights in oncoming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies – your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.

All halogen headlamps dim over time. Your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center tech recommends that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It’s easy to remember – when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time – then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long CA winter nights.

If you have an older sedan with old-school headlamps, you might be able to get a halogen replacement. You’ll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.

In addition to regular halogen lamps, COSTA MESA auto owners can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that’s more like natural sunlight. This light’s easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.

Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive around the Irvine area. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other COSTA MESA auto owners to think you’re running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn’t she? Only her Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service specialist knows for sure.

Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA, CA can restore headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On

Today’s Costa Mesa Auto Service Center auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power vital automotive systems. Let’s go over them.

First, the serpentine belt drives your sedan air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Irvine.

Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your sedan’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. Costa Mesa Auto Service Center Maintenance Tips The Belt Goes OnAll Irvine drivers know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.

The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many sedans, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures for Irvine auto owners. (On some sedans, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)

So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why vehicle manufacturers and your service advisor at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.

Your
considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service professional can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.

Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its vital job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Costa Mesa Auto Service Center, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

All in all, the serpentine belt’s a critical art for the function of your sedan. And it’s not that pricey to replace at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center – so bring in your vehicle if it hasn’t been checked in a while.

Breathe Free In COSTA MESA: Cabin Air Filter Replacement At Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

There are a lot of new features, both optional and standard, on COSTA MESA car owners’ vehicles these days. One you may not have heard of is called a cabin air filter. Simply put, its job is to keep the air in the passenger compartment of your car nice and clean.

A cabin air filter is similar to the filter you use on your furnace at home in COSTA MESA. Cabin air filters can catch particles down to three microns. By comparison, a grain of sand is 200 microns. So cabin air filters are effective against dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores and most pollutants in our Irvine atmosphere. Good news if you suffer from any types of allergies, or if you live in an area in COSTA MESA prone to air pollution.

Cabin air filters are generally located in the engine compartment or under the dashboard. They can be tricky to access and replace, so you’ll probably want to go to your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service advisor to get it done. Check your sedan owner’s manual to find out if your sedan is equipped with a cabin air filter and how often it should be changed. Recommendations vary, but generally a cabin air filter should be changed every twelve to fifteen thousand miles.

Of course, if you are an allergy sufferer in Huntington Beach, you may want to replace it more often. Also, if you do a lot of driving in polluted or dusty areas in CA, you’ll also want to shorten the cabin air filter replacement period. Dirty air filters just don’t work well, and they can exude an unpleasant odor if ignored for too long.

Most COSTA MESA folks know that good car care includes keeping your sedan clean, including the air inside the passenger compartment, so changing your cabin air filter should be part of your routine preventive maintenance. It’s good auto advice as well as good medical advice that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You really shouldn’t wait until the interior of your car starts to smell and your eyes start to water before you change your filter. And trying to cover it up with a dangling green pine tree is not the right answer, either!

Cabin air filters can be a welcome relief to COSTA MESA allergy sufferers, but they’re also a great idea for anyone in Irvine who just wants to breathe better.