Archive for July 24, 2012

Ethics of Automotive Repair in Mission Viejo

We’re going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Mission Viejo automotive service and repair industry hasn’t been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Mission Viejo has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Mission Viejo automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what’s recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we’ll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It’s like going to the doctor; If she’s using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Mission Viejo service advisor too. He’s so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don’t know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don’t understand what your doctor’s talking about: ask some questions. If you don’t understand what your Mission Viejo automotive advisor’s talking about: ask some questions.

Let’s go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary?” Well, here’s the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Elite Motors says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn’t want to replace the rotor; Elite Motors would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could’ve failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician’s informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

Busting Automotive Myths In Mission Viejo California

Myths passed around our Mission Viejo California community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the sedans of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.

To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Mission Viejo area, come over to Elite Motors.
You’ll find us at 23725 Via Fabricante # F, Mission Viejo, California 92691.
Give us a call at (949) 243-7956 to make an appointment for your next auto service.

Let’s examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.

The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.

The truth on which this myth is based is that many new cars come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Mission Viejo. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Mission Viejo still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.

Another common rant you’ll hear around Mission Viejo is that modern cars don’t need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a ‘tune-up’, which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Elite Motors would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.

This definition just doesn’t apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Elite Motors generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles or so.

Of course you can’t lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can’t adjust a carburetor if your car doesn’t have one. You probably don’t need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles. What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?

The danger with these modern-day myths, is that they prevent people in our local Mission Viejo community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?

Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .

You get the picture. Your sedan is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Elite Motors have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Mission Viejo service advisor at Elite Motors, or do some research of your own.

Direct Fuel Injection Update From Elite Motors

For those of you in Mission Viejo California who pay attention to these things, you may have been hearing about the new direct injection engines and want to learn more about them. Some deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines the conventional V6 makes about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version of the same engine makes over 300 horsepower and gets essentially the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version makes over 350 horsepower.

So what are the differences from a conventional engine?

The core difference is in the fuel injection system. The system most vehicles use now is called a port injection system. The fuel injector squirts fuel into a port just outside the cylinder where it’s then drawn into the engine with the air.

With a direct injection system, the injector squirts the fuel directly into the cylinder. The gain in power and economy come because fuel injected directly into the cylinder during the combustion cycle is burned much more efficiently.

First, the fuel is squirted in at hundreds of times more pressure, so it’s atomized much better and burns cleaner and stronger. The other big advance is in electronics. Faster engine management computers can control the additional precision required to manage direct fuel injection.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver a precise amount of fuel at exactly the right time. The design of the engine also dictates a particular spray pattern for the fuel. If a fuel injector is dirty or gummed up, it can’t do its job as well. That means less power and worse fuel economy for your sedan and can lead to damaged fuel injectors.

Replacing fuel injectors isn’t cheap. Direct injection injectors are even more expensive because of the extremely high-pressure they use. Same thing for diesel fuel injectors; we’re talking mortgage payment-range to replace a set of diesel injectors.

A professional fuel system cleaning from Elite Motors gets out the gum and varnish in the whole system, including the fuel injectors. Keep those injectors clean and they’ll last a long, long time.

Stop It! You Need Good Brakes

Good brakes are obviously very important. If you’ve ever had your brakes go out while you’re driving around the Laguna Niguel area, you’ll know how terrifying it can be. Today we’ll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem, and how to make good repair choices.

Often, the first indication that something’s wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.

Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It’s an early warning indicator.

When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Elite Motors soon.

Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.

A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.

Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.

Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes drivers insist on lower cost pads. That’s OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the trade offs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you’ll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won’t last as long either. In our opinion, that’s a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.

Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you’ve been driving with completely worn brake pads, you’ve scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren’t too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.

Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that’s thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

Something that’s often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.

So here’s the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected. Your advisor can help you make the repair decision that’s right for you.