Archive for March 26, 2013

Alternative Fuel Vehicles In Mission Viejo California

Let’s talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions to our Mission Viejo environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for us very soon.

For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Laguna Niguel area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.

The benefits are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower fuel economy and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more expensive than straight gasoline.

You should only use E85 if you have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines have been around the Laguna Niguel area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.

There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Laguna Niguel roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It’s less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.

Natural gas engines don’t make as much power and don’t get as good of mileage, but they cost less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Laguna Niguel.

Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Laguna Niguel area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.

That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our Laguna Niguel roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.

A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that’s assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver city fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.

A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It’ll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.

Another breakthrough technology is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It’ll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there’s widespread use.

A quick word about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Laguna Niguel service technician at Elite Motors is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.

Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you’re specifically trained on hybrid systems.

Maintenance for High Mileage Vehicles In Mission Viejo California

Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Mission Viejo California area (zip code: 92691) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Elite Motors we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.

If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Laguna Niguel area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance:
Elite Motors
23725 Via Fabricante # F
Mission Viejo, California 92691
(949) 243-7956

Many people in Mission Viejo are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern sedans are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

Local car owners in Mission Viejo with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let’s start with the special needs of the older vehicle…

The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There’ll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.

All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.

So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they’re worth it.

In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.

Talk with your Mission Viejo service advisor at Elite Motors about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.

Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.

If anything, following recommended service intervals for your sedan is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.

So, have your Mission Viejo auto service advisor at Elite Motors help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven’t gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it’s time to start taking care of those things. It’ll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.

Fuel Saving Tip: Mission Viejo Tune Up

Have you ever gone to Laguna Niguel to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That’s why they tune up together.

Fuel Economy Now this is no surprise; I’m going to relate the orchestra to your car. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.

We call this, (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra’s out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle’s out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.

So check your owner’s manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your Mission Viejo service advisor at Elite Motors what he thinks.

…Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable.

Nighttime Visibility In Laguna Niguel

There are a number of factors that contribute to the high nighttime accident rate in the greater Laguna Niguel 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 Elite Motors. you’ll find us located on 23725 Via Fabricante # F, Mission Viejo, California 92691. Please give us a call to make an appointment: (949) 243-7956.

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 Laguna Niguel service advisor at Elite Motors 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. Elite Motors 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.