Archive for August 30, 2012

On Board Diagnostics For Mission Viejo Motorists

Some Mission Viejo motorists are confused by Elite Motors charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair. Many services at Elite Motors and other Mission Viejo automotive repair shops include diagnostic fees.

When you take your laptop into a Laguna Niguel computer repair shop for a problem you’ll likely have to leave a deposit for diagnostics. When we visit our Laguna Beach doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying him to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it.

On Board Diagnostics For Mission Viejo Motorists

So receiving a diagnostic charge at Elite Motors for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise. In the Laguna Niguel area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your sedan brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy California expressway, you pull off the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your sedan engine, Elite Motors diagnosis may be much more involved.

Much of the Laguna Niguel public’s confusion comes when the problem involves the check engine light. The check engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

There’s a common misconception among Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and Lake Forest drivers that the trouble code tells the Elite Motors technician exactly what’s wrong. Why then is there a diagnostic charge, the scanner just gave the diagnosis?

Reality is more involved than that. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that’s out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the check engine light.

The sedan computer’s trouble code just tells the Elite Motors technician what engine parameter is out of range – not what’s causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom.

There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Elite Motors Mission Viejo customers. The Elite Motors technician makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem.

Laguna Niguel service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for a given trouble code. They outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented fix. These databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course Elite Motors wants to figure out what’s wrong with your sedan and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

E-85 Fuel Safety Advice From Elite Motors

Today at Elite Motors we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Laguna Niguel area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.

Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Elite Motors at 23725 Via Fabricante # F in Mission Viejo, California 92691 to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling (949) 243-7956.

E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower harmful exhaust emissions to our local Laguna Niguel community.

All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Mission Viejo California area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning people without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.

At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles in Mission Viejo California. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away important seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.

You can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. Fire fighting experts caution consumers to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.

So are people who don’t have a Flex Fuel vehicle but use E-85 to help the environment actually putting themselves at risk? Yes. In fact, service and repair centers in Mission Viejo California are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.

Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have in your Mission Viejo California garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. At Elite Motors we are concerned about your safety. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if your vehicle can safely use E-85, go to www.e85fuel.com for more resources.

Take a look at our attached auto safety tips video from Auto Tips Videos.

Breathe Deep With Your Cabin Air Filter

Bad air quality while you’re driving around Laguna Beach is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more and more vehicles these days come equipped with a cabin air filter. Since they’re fairly new on the scene, a lot of folks don’t know about them yet.

These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment, or cabin, of your car or truck. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as thee microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

So your cabin air filer can clean out dust, pollution, pollen and spores, to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they need to be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner’s manual, but they typically need to be replaced at around twelve to fifteen thousand miles.

The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you’ll want to have your Mission Viejo California service center, Elite Motors, take care of replacing them.

As we said, many people don’t realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement and they were on their way and smelling fine.

People who are allergy sensitive can really benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.

Of course if you do a lot of driving in dusty or polluted conditions, you’ll need to change your cabin air filter more often.

Water Pump

Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:

  • the radiator
  • the radiator cap
  • the hoses
  • the thermostat and
  • the water pump

The water pump’s like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout. It’s a small pump that’s driven by the engine; usually by belt, but sometimes by a chain or gear.

The water pump only operates when the engine’s running. Water pump failure is pretty routine. Some start failing at around 40,000 miles, but most fail by 100,000 miles. Consult your owners’ manual or service technician to see what’s recommended.

Since a water pump either works or it doesn’t, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.

So how can you tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump – it’s got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area, you’ve got a leak.

Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you can’t see the water pump. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have your service center check it out.

Most timing belts need to be changed at 60,000 miles – some longer. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time if it’s one of those that’s driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work’s already done with the timing belt change. And, if you don’t, and develop a leak later, you’ll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.

You can replace your water pump with a brand spankin’ new one or with a rebuilt pump. Rebuilt will save you some money, but ask your technician what he thinks. Don’t feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. Your service technician can get you back on the road and on with your life.

Commitment to Make Your sedan Last At Elite Motors

For advice on how to make your sedan last longer, visit us at Elite Motors
23725 Via Fabricante # F
Mission Viejo, California 92691
(949) 243-7956

These days many people in the Laguna Niguel area are really committed to making their cars last a long time. First thing: you’ve got to start with what you’ve got. It’d be ideal if people started with a brand new car, never missed a scheduled service item, paid attention to the severe service maintenance schedule and had regular inspections. But if you’ve had the vehicle for a while, or bought it used, its maintenance history is what it is; and that’s where you start.

Go through the maintenance schedule for your sedan and see what’s been done and when. Have your Mission Viejo service advisor at Elite Motors do an inspection and come up with a list of stuff that needs to be done. Review the list and prioritize the work, talk about budget and make a plan to get caught up.

Making a plan is so important. Suppose you go in for an oil change and learn you need your cooling system serviced, a transmission service and are coming up on a timing belt replacement in the next 5,000 miles. You might be pretty overwhelmed.

To make it even more stressful, these are all very important systems that are expensive to repair if there’s a failure. In consultation with your Mission Viejo service advisor, you might decide to take care of the transmission on this visit, set an appointment for the cooling system service next month and get an estimate for the timing belt replacement so you’ll be prepared for it in a few months.

Having a plan for taking care of these important services will set your mind at ease.