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

How Your Check Engine Light Works

Have you ever had an experience like this in COSTA MESA CA? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!

You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.

You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.

Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.

Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.

It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now.

Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.

The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.

Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our COSTA MESA CA shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?

Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.

The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.

The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.

The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?

Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.

Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.

You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?

You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.

There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.

There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.

A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your COSTA MESA CA service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.

The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.

So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.

How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center. Give us a call at 949.645.7878 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.

Why People In COSTA MESA Hesitate to Get their Vehicle Serviced

A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on our COSTA MESA CA roads have one or more service or repair that’s needed, but hasn’t been taken care of. Now that’s a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.

There are several reasons why we hesitate to take care of recommended services; especially services that our COSTA MESA CA automotive advisor recommends when we’re in for something else, like an oil change.

The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don’t always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your sedan, but if you don’t have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you’re not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.

Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his local COSTA MESA CA service advisor. People who don’t know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to look ignorant.

It’s human nature. But, there’s so much to know in this world, we can’t all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It’s very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it’s your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician in COSTA MESA, CA.

Your auto technician at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center wants your questions. We want you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.

That brings us to the next issue; people say that they don’t always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.

At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your COSTA MESA service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer’s maintenance schedules.

In other words, “you don’t have to trust me, you can trust your owner’s manual”.

Your COSTA MESA service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer’s recommendations for almost all vehicles, so they don’t need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner’s manual to know what to do.

Basically, the engineers who designed the car say “here’s when you need to have it serviced”. That’s who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He’s just reminding you.

Now you do need to trust your COSTA MESA technician’s experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.

That brings us to the third issue; money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn’t usually on either of those lists.

Look, everyone who works at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center has a family budget, too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.

Service centers like Costa Mesa Auto Service Center invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.

We work hard to make sure that we diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That’s the only way we can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If we’re not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, you won’t come back and the service center won’t be around for long.

When there is a real budget concern, your COSTA MESA service center can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.

Let’s say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That’s a safety concern so a technician can’t ethically say, well, let’s put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.

Nighttime Visibility In Irvine

There are a number of factors that contribute to the high nighttime accident rate in the greater Irvine area, things like drowsy driving and a higher rate of impaired driving. Without a doubt, visibility is a major contributor. Let’s focus on visibility…

It’s said that 90 percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. Nighttime driving has the effect of reducing 20/20 vision to the equivalent of 20/50 vision. What you could clearly see at 50 feet in daylight can’t be seen until you are just 20 feet away at night.

Too make sure your headlights are giving you the greatest visibility, visit us at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center. you’ll find us located on 1749 Anaheim Avenue, COSTA MESA, CA 92627. Please give us a call to make an appointment: 949.645.7878.

Accident avoidance is dependent on reaction time. Reaction time deteriorates measurably in low light conditions. One thing we can do to improve visibility is to make sure our headlights are as bright as they can possibly be.

Headlamps dim over time. They dim so gradually that you may not notice it. Many experts suggest replacing your standard or halogen headlamps once a year.

If your vehicle has standard headlamps, consider upgrading to halogen lamps. They make a big difference. And there are upgrades available within the halogen category as well. This once-a-year expense is very modest compared to the safety benefits.

Some sedans come with high intensity discharge – or HID – headlamps. These lamps should last for the life of your car. They are very bright and are clearly the best option for nighttime driving. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Talk with your Irvine service advisor at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center about options for your car.

Another startling fact is that 90 percent of sedans on the road have dirty or yellowed headlight covers. Dirty is easy to fix. Just run the window washer over the headlight cover when you stop for gas. Get those bugs and dirt off the cover.

Now plastic headlight covers can yellow or become hazy over time. They can be restored to clarity with a special polishing process. Costa Mesa Auto Service Center can help you with this service.

It’s also vital to keep your windshield clean and streak free when driving at night. Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid and that your windshield wipers are in good working order.

We recommend replacing wiper blades twice a year – in the spring and fall. Fall is also a good time to replace headlamps so you’ll be ready for those long winter nights.

Auto Videos for COSTA MESA Drivers: Causes of Wheel Misalignment

When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. COSTA MESA drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like a major collision, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object. While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well. Your automobile can lose alignment over time with just normal driving.

When your wheels are out of alignment, the team of automotive professionals at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA can return your wheels to the factory settings. Most owners’ manuals suggest an inspection every year or two.

Give us a call

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

Costa Mesa Auto Service Center News and Videos for COSTA MESA: Knowing When Your Timing Belt Should Be Replaced

The timing belt in your engine controls the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. COSTA MESA motorists need to replace it on a schedule to avoid failure.

Timing belts are very difficult to get to, requiring quite a bit of labor to access. Timing belt replacement is one of the more costly maintenance services, but the cost to repair an engine damaged by a broken timing belt is much, much more.

The timing belt has a tensioner to help maintain proper belt tension. The tensioner should be replaced along with the timing belt and any idler pulleys at the auto manufacturer’s specified service interval. Your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center technician can help you with the timing.

Give us a call

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

COSTA MESA Exhaust And Emissions Service

Many COSTA MESA car owners don’t realize that there is more to exhaust system maintenance than just tailpipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. Exhaust service at a full-service automotive center like Costa Mesa Auto Service Center is really a lot more comprehensive these days.

For example, in the U.S., the federal government required catalytic converters for all cars in COSTA MESA in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. CA and federal emissions requirements have forced car makers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental laws. This also goes for cars sold in Canada.

So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now necessary. And because it’s so sophisticated, auto makers recommend having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.

If your ‘check engine light’ comes on while you are driving around the Irvine area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to bring your car into Costa Mesa Auto Service Center ASAP. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. Signs of exhaust or emissions trouble include difficulty starting, engine noise or smoke.

So let’s do a quick rundown of the exhaust system for COSTA MESA motorists. First up, the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.

The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the cabin, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.

The exhaust pipes connect the various vital components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.

Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes toxic chemicals into harmless carbon dioxide and water. The catalytic converter doesn’t require any maintenance itself for COSTA MESA car owners, but eventually it wears out. If yours has stopped working, you probably won’t discover it until your car fails its CA emissions inspection.

Next, the muffler. The essential job of this aptly-named part is to muffle engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. Many COSTA MESA car owners don’t know that you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because in addition to changing the look of your ride, you can also customize its sound!

Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of how harmful a hot curling iron can be – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around. Talk to your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service advisor.

And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the important fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.

We hope this hasn’t been too ‘exhausting’ of a discussion. Remember that a properly functioning exhaust system is vital for COSTA MESA auto owners’ health and safety. Talk with your considerate service professional at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA if you think you might need a diagnostic examination of your exhaust system. A quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.

Auto Tips Videos provided for Costa Mesa Auto Service Center by AutoNetTV.

Hitting The Brakes In Costa Mesa

Hello COSTA MESA, let’s talk about brakes. Braking, as all CA drivers know, is slowing or stopping your vehicle. As you can imagine, brakes are engineered to work well on a particular vehicle application. For example, you would expect more powerful brakes on a heavy-duty pickup that routinely hauls big loads and pulls trailers, than you would on a compact car. And a Corvette that can go over 180 miles per hour would have much different braking needs than the family mini-van you drive around between COSTA MESA, Irvine and Costa Mesa.

Hitting The Brakes In Costa MesaBut the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There’s also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.

Let’s step back. A new sedan or truck rolls off a local COSTA MESA showroom floor. It has brand new brakes with brand new brake pads. The brake lines and pump are filled with fresh fluid and are completely clean inside. And the tires are brand new, with full tread. It is ready to go.

Naturally, braking power is at its peak performance. Now the miles start to add up on the sedan. COSTA MESA car owners tend to focus on the brake pads. In the automotive business, the pads, and shoes on drum brakes, are called the friction material. That’s because they provide the friction used to stop the vehicle. The pads are designed to be effective throughout their useful life – it’s not until they are worn so thin as to be out of vehicle manufacturers’ specs that they lose their ability to stop.

The mechanical parts of the brakes have pistons and springs that get quite a workout while breaking. Over many miles around CA, these wear and get gummed up. They start to lose effectiveness gradually and could even fail – a scary possibility That’s why a regular brake inspection at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center is important for your sedan and your family’s safety. At Costa Mesa Auto Service Center we can test the operation of the brakes and see if any parts need cleaning or replacing.

That leads us to brake fluid service at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the sedan fluid system are depleted over time. That and moisture building up in the system reduce the performance of the brake fluid. A brake service at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.

The tires are what connect the sedan to the road. Stopping force all comes down to traction. The better the tires grip the road, the quicker you’ll stop.

This is especially important on wet Irvine area expressways and surface streets. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. CA auto owners need to understand that they can have brakes that are operating at peak efficiency and yet still be in danger because their tires are worn out.

Give Your Engine Clean Fuel With A New Fuel Filter From Costa Mesa Auto Service Center

Your sedan requires plenty of clean fuel to run. If your fuel contains contaminants, your fuel injectors will eventually become clogged up. When this happens, your sedan engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run at peak performance. This hurts MPG and performance as you drive around Irvine. It can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber.

That’s why all vehicles, including sedans, come equipped with a fuel filter somewhere between the engine and the fuel tank. Give Your Engine Clean Fuel With A New Fuel Filter From Costa Mesa Auto Service CenterThe job of the filter is to clean out little pieces of dirt and contamination. The filter captures the contaminants and keeps them out of the fuel stream. Of course, like all filters, it will eventually get clogged up and need to be replaced at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA .

If your fuel filter is clogged, the sedan engine can’t get all the fuel it needs, and it may sputter at high speeds or quick acceleration. Many fuel filters have a bypass valve that will allow unfiltered fuel through when they are clogged. This keeps your sedan engine running, but doesn’t protect it from dangerous contaminated fuel.

COSTA MESA auto owners may find that they need to change their fuel filter at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center more frequently as their sedan ages. Over the years, additional sediment and detrimental rust accumulates in the fuel tank and can be drawn into the fuel system. Your fuel filter stands guard at the gates to your engine to protect expensive parts and to maintain performance and fuel economy.

Deciphering the Costa Mesa Auto Service Center Menu Board

Let’s talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. COSTA MESA, CA service centers like Costa Mesa Auto Service Center have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don’t know what these services really are unless they ask. Let’s go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.

Feel free at any time to give Costa Mesa Auto Service Center a call at 949.645.7878 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our COSTA MESA, CA auto center at 1749 Anaheim Avenue 92627.

First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles the service should be done.

Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.

Alignment. Service centers like Costa Mesa Auto Service Center make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.

Battery service. Service centers like Costa Mesa Auto Service Center inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery’s ability to hold a charge. If the battery’s still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.

Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.

The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often over looked.

Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.

Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.

Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don’t require service very often, so people don’t think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.

Engine air filter. This filters the air that’s burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.

Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.

Contact Costa Mesa Auto Service Center, your COSTA MESA, CA auto repair center, by calling us at 949.645.7878.

Drive Train – What You Need to Know In COSTA MESA

One COSTA MESA automotive service issue that doesn’t get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don’t get talked about very much around Irvine, but they’re very critical. First let’s define what the driveline is:

Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.

That’s not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you’re not moving. So COSTA MESA auto owners need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we’re going to have to oversimplify a bit.

If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call:
Costa Mesa Auto Service Center
1749 Anaheim Avenue
COSTA MESA, CA 92627
Call Us at 949.645.7878

Let’s start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.

So, Costa Mesa Auto Service Center driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the cv boot to see if it’s torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner’s manual or check with your considerate Costa Mesa Auto Service Center service advisor.

On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in COSTA MESA have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. Most COSTA MESA motorists have probably heard the term ‘u-joints‘. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center in COSTA MESA.

The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or COSTA MESA service advisor for intervals.

Now let’s go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The sedan may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.

Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road in COSTA MESA, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don’t work well on dry pavement when they’re in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.

Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is critical as well as service to the center and rear differentials.

Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There’s a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So COSTA MESA car owners need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line for COSTA MESA auto owners is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner’s manual. Your COSTA MESA service advisor can answer any questions you’ve got. If this is the first time you’ve heard some of this stuff – it’s time to ask someone at Costa Mesa Auto Service Center if any of it needs to be done now.

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