Archive for Uncategorized

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

So your Check Engine light is on and you’re wondering what it could mean. Let’s see if All Tune and Lube in Tempe can help out a little.

The first thing you need to do is find out why, right? Take your car down to a shop you trust to have the codes read. The parts stores will read the codes for you but they’re probably not going to be able to give you a feel for how serious the problem is; very serious or not so much of a problem. A regular auto repair shop is likely to have more experience and be able to provide a bit of guidance you’re not likely to get from a parts store. If anyone wants to charge you for reading codes on a car built after 1996 RUN AWAY! Cars built before that can be a little problematic.

Here are the five most common CEL codes:

  • Oxygen Sensor fault. Can be bank 1 or 2 (refers to the side of the engine if you have a V6, V8 or H4 or H6) or it can be sensor 1 or 2 if your car has sensors both upstream and downstream from the catalytic converter. Sensor 1, the upstream sensor, is also called a fuel air trim sensor. The computer that controls your engine gets information from that sensor that affects the way your car runs and your fuel economy. Sensor 2, the downstream sensor typically monitors the catalytic converter. Just about anyone with a little mechanical knowledge can replace an oxygen sensor and if you’re sure that’s the problem just go for it. That being said it’s not always that simple. Your shop has equipment that can trace the function of the oxygen sensor and make sure that’s the problem.
  • Gas cap loose, damaged or missing. OK, this one is a no brainer, right? Pretty much. Take a look the gas cap and you’ll see a rubber ring around it up at the top of the treaded part. If there are cracks replace it with an original equipment cap! The aftermarket caps just don’t seem to be up to snuff. From time to time we see this code come up when the cap hasn’t been tightened enough. Make sure you hear it click at least 3 times. If the light comes back on it could be that there’s an evaporative system leak that’s mimicking a fuel cap problem. Take it to a shop.
  • The third most common code we see is the dreaded P0420 Catalytic Converter Efficiency Below Operating Threshold. There are rare exceptions but you’ll probably need a new cat.
  • The next most common is a Mass Air Flow Sensor fault. Like the upstream oxygen sensor, this item provides information to your cars’ computer for engine management. MAF sensors don’t fail all that often but they do get dirty, especially if you don’t change your air filter often enough. These sensors are easily damaged and take a special cleaner. If that doesn’t take care of the problem take your vehicle to a shop (All Tune & Lube Tempe for example!) that has the equipment to test it. There’s not usually a lot of labor to the job but the part can get pricey.
  • The last are the misfire codes. All sorts of things can cause your engine to misfire. Spark plugs, ignition wires or COP boots, ignition coils and fuel injectors come immediately to mind. Don’t let anyone just do spark plugs and wires on your car until they’re sure of what the problem actually is.

There are all sorts of additional faults that can turn the Check Engine light on. If your car seems to run OK but the CEL is on, take it by your shop as soon as you have an opportunity. If your car starts running poorly or if the CEL is flashing get to the shop ASAP. Thanks, from your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care, Tempe AZ.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

What is the Difference Between Shocks and Struts? Tempe, Arizona

Shock and struts, what do they do and what are the differences between them? At All Tune and Lube Tempe we see a lot of cars, many of them need shocks and struts but they can be tough items to sell because most folks don’t know what they’re for. Let me try to enlighten you a little bit.


Most adds for shocks and struts focus on providing a smooth comfortable ride. That’s a great benefit but that’s not their primary purpose. What shocks and struts do is keep your tires in contact with the road. The difference between the two, to simplify a bit, is that a strut actually holds the vehicle up. It’s a structural part of your suspension where a shock isn’t. If you removed a strut, you’re not going anywhere. If you remove a shock, driving would be crazy sketchy but the car would still move.




Prepare yourself for some more simplification and I’m going to use the word “shocks” for both shocks and struts. Picture this: You have an air filled rubber ring about 2-feet in diameter that weights maybe 50 pounds rolling along a smooth surface at a good speed. All at once this rubber ring contacts an obstruction, maybe just a couple of inches tall, and it bounces. Depending on how fast it was moving it could bounce pretty high right? and when it comes back down it’ll bounce again. If it’s important to keep that rubber ring in contact with the surface it’s rolling over, something is needed to dampen the impact (shock) and absorb the energy. That energy doesn’t just go away, it’s turned in to heat that’s dissipated by the shocks. Now every mile of road has hundreds, maybe thousands, of small and not so small dips, cracks and divots. Next time you’re riding along the highway take a look at the wheels of the other cars on the road a notice how often they move up and down to follow the surface of the road. That represents a lot of heat and a lot of mechanical wear on the shocks. Traveling on dirt roads or other rough surfaces will make the shocks so hot you can’t touch them and wears them much faster.


Manufacturers of shocks and struts recommend replacing them every 50-60,000 miles. For many, maybe most, vehicle it’s probably not necessary to replace them that often but by the time your car has 100,000 miles on the clock your shocks and struts have worn out, they’ve done their job and it’s time they retired.


From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Emissions Repair Mistakes

We do a pretty good job of emissions repair here at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care and have a good reputation with ADEQ, the state department that performs the tests. Customers are often very nervous about the cost to get their system up to snuff but, like most car repair, it’s not usually as bad as they fear. Also, there are a few common mistakes and misconceptions about what to do in order to get your car to pass.


First mistake: Taking your car in to emission inspection with the check engine light (CEL) on.  If you have a car built from 1996 on it came equipped with an On Board Diagnostic II system, what is usually referred to as OBD II. If the CEL is on its’ saying that there is some sort of problem that effects the emissions your car produces. If that light is on, no matter what, your car will not pass inspection.


Second mistake: OK then, if the CEL is lit, just disconnect the battery for a second and it’ll turn it off. Then the car will pass, right? Wrong. When you do that all the monitored systems are re-set and will show a Not Ready status to the inspectors. In order to get all these systems to show Ready you’ll need to go through a number of Drive Cycles (More on Drive Cycles in another post) and in all probability the problem that caused the CEL to set will re-appear.


Third mistake: Having an auto parts store pull the offending codes for you, replacing a couple of parts and assume that’ll take care of the problem. OK, to be fair, this sometimes works. If your car has a code for a faulty gas cap and you replace it, you’ll probably be fine. But oxygen sensor fault codes, evaporative emissions fault codes and even catalyst efficiency codes can have multiple causes. Take your car to a reputable shop, hopefully All Tune and Lube Total Car Care, and have them pull the codes. There’s no charge for that and the technician can explain possible causes to you.


Forth mistake: Taking the car back to the emissions inspection station too soon after the repair. Even once the repair has been completed your car will need to perform the Drive Cycle appropriate for the system to check itself and show that it’s ready. Any shop worth a darn, like ours for instance, will have a scanner that can tell you if your OBD II system is in ready status.


From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Check Engine Light

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Car Maintenance Schedule Tempe Arizona

Happy Driver 3-16-15_0If you’re going to keep your car alive and well over the long haul there are certain things you have to do on a regular basis. We call these items Routine Maintenance. Your cars owners’ manual has a list of scheduled routine maintenance services and the recommended mileage for those services, but if you’ve lost your manual here’s a list and the typical mileage intervals.

Every 3,000 to 7,000 Miles
The oil and oil filter should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommended auto maintenance schedule with a majority suggesting the oil and oil filter be replaced between 3,000 and 7,000 miles. The low number is for conventional motor oil and the higher number for full synthetic. At the same time you should inspect the level and condition of the transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid and windshield washer fluid. You should also check the wipers, tires and tire pressure, brake pads and all exterior lights.

Every 15,000 to 30,000 Miles
Replace the air filter every 15,000 miles or as needed. Every 20,000 miles inspect the battery and test the condition of the coolant. Most 25,000-mile maintenance service requires replacing the fuel filter if your car is equipped with one. Every 30,000 miles inspect the coolant, radiator hoses, HVAC system and all suspension components and on many cars, have the transmission serviced.

Every 35,000 to 50,000 Miles
Inspect and test the battery every 35,000 miles. Every 30,000 to 100,000 miles replace the spark plugs and spark plug wires, and inspect the ignition and air induction systems.

Every 60,000 Miles
Replace the brake fluid, radiator hoses, coolant, power steering fluid and timing belt, have the transmission fluid flushed and replace the transmission filter. Inspect the HVAC, suspension components and tires.
Oil changes and air filters are very important parts of engine maintenance; however, a thorough inspection of all engine, transmission, cooling, brakes and suspension components should also be performed regularly. The owner’s manual provides a routine auto maintenance schedule based on engine mileage for most cars.

Hope this is useful!

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe Arizona. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Where Can My Car AC Be Leaking? Tempe Arizona

Cold CarIf your cars’ AC system is low on Freon (It’s not really Freon, it’s a product called R-134a), you have a leak. No two ways about it. Your cars’ AC is a closed system, meaning that it circulates the same refrigerant over and over again and as long as there’s no leak it will never run out. Now, having said that, some leaks are big enough that they need immediate repair if you want your system to work, and some are very small, so small that you don’t have to re-charge the system but every other year or so.

So where do these leaks most commonly occur? Far and away the most common place for a leak in the AC is at the service ports. There are two of them, one at the high pressure side and one at the, wait for it…low pressure side (Who woulda guessed?). Inside the service ports are little valves that look all the world like the valves in your bicycle tires. Over time the seals that keep them from leaking wear out or get hard and they fail. Easy enough to replace when you have AC service done and we typically replace them as a preventative measure when we re-charge a system.

Now, the AC system in your car has a number of rubber o-ring seals in it as well and these are the second most common spot for leaks to appear. Of those we see more leaks at the AC compressor where the hoses attach than just about anywhere else. After that it would be the o-rings that seal the system to the thermal expansion valve next to the firewall. The best repair for failing o-ring seals is to replace them all. After all, if one’s gone, the rest will be following soon. Bunch o’ quitters!

You’ve probably notice that there are a couple of rubber hoses associated with your cars’ AC too. Those rubber hoses are the third most common point of failure as far as leaks go, usually at the metal collars that attach the fittings to the hoses. You’re pretty safe just replacing the offending item, re-charging the system and going on your merry way.

The last items are way less common: A leaky compressor. The compressor has a seal on the front behind the pulley/clutch that’ll go bad occasionally. Also the compressor splits in half around the middle and there’s a seal that will leak. When this happens get ready to replace the compressor ‘cause it’s really tough to get the darn thing to seal up correctly after disassembling it.

A hole in your condenser. That’s the thing at the very front of your car behind the bodywork that looks like a radiator. They get hit by rocks from time to time, something to which they react poorly.

Way down the list but something we still do see is a leaky evaporator. That’s another piece that looks a bit like a radiator. It’s tucked up way up under your dash and it’s pain to get to. You don’t want a leaky evaporator, they’re labor intensive.

I hope this helps a little.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Car AC Not Blowing Hard Enough Tempe Arizona

Cold Car 5-11-15Your car’s air conditioner is working but it’s just not blowing air as it’s supposed to. Maybe it only works with the fan in the highest setting or maybe it doesn’t work at all? Maybe the air will come out through the defroster vents or the floor vents but not through the dash? OK, no sweat. Here’s what to look for.

So, you can hear the fan coming on and changing speeds but you’re not getting much air through the vents. Check your cabin air filter. Most cars have a filter that cleans the air coming in to the cab of the vehicle and they get VERY dirty because folks forget about them. We have a couple spectacular examples here at the shop, and I saw one once that was so dirty and clogged that the fan sucked it in to the ducting. This is a common and easily fixed problem. Well, as long as you don’t let the filter get sucked in to the fan.

Can you hear the fan come on and does the sound change as you turn the fan switch? If you’re only getting one or two speeds out of your fan there are a couple of things it could be. We get vehicles in from time to time where the fan only works on the highest setting because the blower motor resistor is burned out. The blower resistor is a little device that typically bolts up right to the blower motor and allows the fan to work at different speeds. When it fries the only speed remaining is high. If all you have is high speed, I’d condemn the blower resistor right away if I didn’t know anything else. Also, the fan switch in the control head can fail, but that’s a bit more rare. If you have to fiddle with the fan switch to get it to work then it’s on its’ way out. Stop messing with it and replace it.

How obnoxious is it to have your AC working great but it only blows through the defroster or the floor vents? I mean it’s nice to have cool feet but is that really what you wanted? No it isn’t! Well, down deep inside the dash of your vehicle, way in there where there is a bunch of scary wires and black boxes and a sign reading “Herre Thar Be Dragons” are a couple widgets called mode control motors. Sometimes vacuum operated, sometimes electric, they control doors inside the air handling system that direct the air one way and the other. They’re plastic motors in plastic boxes with plastic gears. They’re made cheap as dirt and fail all the time. Most often, but not always, they’ll give you some warning with a noisy “click, click, click”. Some of these are easy enough to access, some are a real bear. When you start hearing that “click” bring it in and have it fixed.

There are a number of automatic climate control systems that are run by a computer in your car. We’re not going in to them because they’re very complex and require a skilled diagnostician.

Hope this helps some.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe Arizona. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

How are Cylinder Heads Repaired? Tempe Arizona

Cylinder Head 5-07-15I just wrote a little article about blown head gaskets. Now I’m going to tell you how the repair usually goes. While there are a number of ways a cylinder head can be damaged, I’m going to focus on the most common way: being warped due to overheating.

So the poor, sick vehicle is in the shop, we’ve done the appropriate tests and determined it has a failed (blown) head gasket. Well, why did it fail? The proximate cause is almost always overheating but why did it overheat? Leaky water pump? Blown coolant hose or radiator? What is the condition of the coolant? Once the root cause of the problem has been located then we can get on with the primary repair, the cylinder head.

The next thing we have to do is remove the cylinder head for repair. If the engine is a V6 or V8 we’re going to strenuously recommend removing both heads and re-sealing them both. Once removed the heads are pressure tested for cracks and to insure the valves are sealing properly. If there are any cracks the head will be replaced. If not, the head will be surfaced, that is machined to be sure the side that sits against the head gasket is flat and smooth enough to seal properly. If the valves aren’t sealing as they should, they and their seats are ground so they will. The valve seals are replaced and the valve springs tested for proper tension. While the heads are being machined we’ll clean the block deck and check it for flatness or other damage.

OK then, the machine work is done and it’s time to reinstall the heads. We use only the highest quality gaskets when we reassemble an engine. Whenever they’re available we use multi-layer steel (MLS) head gaskets. If we’re working on a timing belt engine we’re going to replace the timing belt, the timing belt tensioner and idlers and, most likely, the water pump. We’re going to recommend new coolant hoses and new belts too in order to limit future problems. The old coolant is flushed out, fresh coolant installed and the engine oil is changed.

Road Trip! Well, road test really. Out we go to insure that everything is working as it should. When the car gets back to the shop, one final inspection and it’s ready to go home, just as good or better than before there was ever a problem.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

What Makes a Head Gasket Go Bad? Tempe Arizona

Failed Head Gasket 5--7-15If you’re wondering what it is that causes a cylinder head gasket to fail it could only be for one reason: You have a car with a blown head gasket. Bummer. Expensive too. At least it’s not terminal.

Let’s start off by explaining what a gasket does. If you have a container of some kind and it has a couple of parts that need to seal together so that whatever is inside doesn’t leak out you need a gasket between those parts so they’ll seal. Next time you open a jar look inside the lid. Around the edge you’ll see a rubber ring, that’s a gasket. The weather strip around your door is also a gasket, intended to keep the outside elements out and the nice comfortable inside air in.

Now, the engine in your car is made up of a bunch of parts and there are a number of gaskets used to keep the various fluids (including air) inside where they belong. The gaskets that have the toughest job are the cylinder head gaskets that go at the business end of the engine, between the engine block and the….Cylinder Heads! The engine block is a large chunky piece of metal, often iron, that contains the pistons and crankshaft. The cylinder head is a much smaller piece of metal, usually aluminum nowadays, that contains the combustion chambers and valves. There’s a ton of heat generated in these two, particularly in the head. If you remember your high school physics you’ll know that heat makes things expand, things like your block and heads, then they contract as they cool. This expansion and contraction causes there to be a little bit of movement between the heads and the block. In all modern engines that I’m aware of the gaskets have been engineered in such a way that this small amount of movement doesn’t have any effect on its’ ability to seal, though there were a few engines that had some real problems in the ‘90s.

Overheating is the biggest cause of head gasket failure. The engine block, being the more robust part and not having exhaust gasses routed through it, deals with this heat better than the heads. The heads can get so hot that they warp, expand to a point that they can’t return to their normal shape. When that happens there’ll be spots where the head gasket isn’t held as tightly as it needs to be and it will fail, leaking coolant, compression or both.

Sometimes the cause of failure will be corrosion. Poorly maintained coolant will allow corrosion to eat away at the head or block and eventually tunnel around the head gasket. A lot of times the owner is unaware of the problem until there’s enough of a coolant leak to overheat the engine. Then, see paragraph above.

The key to keeping this from happening to you is maintenance. If hoses are replaced before they fail they won’t blow out. If someone is keeping an eye on your radiator and water pump the chances of dramatic failure decrease. If your coolant is properly maintained it can’t erode your engine. We would like to provide that service to you.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

How Can I tell if my U-Joint is Failing? Tempe Arizona

Drive Shaft U-Joint 4-28-15_0Seems like I just posted an article about this…Hum, that’s right! I just did one about CV axles! CV joints in your drive axles and u-joints on your drive shaft perform pretty much the same function in that they allow a change in the angle of the shaft while still letting it transfer the torque from your transmission to your drive wheels. The symptoms of u-joint failure are very much like CV joint failure.

When U joints begin to wear, one of the first signs you’ll notice is vibration. A joint that has developed excess play can rattle at slow speeds and vibrate at highway speeds. The vibration at first might be slight and difficult to pinpoint, but it will become worse, usually within a few hundred miles.

If you suspect your U joint might be going bad, find an empty parking lot and turn the wheel all the way to the right or the left and slowly drive in a circle. Most of the time, if your U joint has worn to the point of being loose you’ll be able to hear a clicking noise with each rotation of the drive shaft. I should tell you that you’ll probably only hear the noise if the car is in gear and under a little bit of power. If you have a manual transmission, don’t push the clutch in because you won’t hear the noise.

If you have a way to jack up your car and put it on stands you can visually inspect your drive shaft. With your car safely on stands and in neutral with the parking brake off, slide under your car on your back and twist the drive shaft one way then back while watching the U joints. They should rotate with the drive shaft with no play or sloppiness.

If you are unsure about the condition of your U joints, bring your car in for inspection. If a worn U joint catastrophically fails at highway speeds, the drive shaft can rotate violently out of control and cause major damage to the under body of your vehicle. If the front U joint snaps, the one directly behind the transmission, it is possible for the drive shaft to penetrate the roadway or into a pot hole and flip your car end over end as proven in the television show called “Myth Busters.” That’s not the way you want to wind up in a You Tube video. If you suspect your U joints are going bad, play it safe and have them inspected right away.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

How Can I Tell a Bad Wheel Bearing? Tempe Arizona

Hub Assy 5-04-15Wheel bearings usually last a very long time, even if they’re abused (Ask me how I know) but sooner or later, like everything, they’re going to fail. The best thing you can do if you have a suspicion that you have a failing wheel bearing is take it to the shop where we can put the car on a lift and check it, but there are signs you can see yourself before the bearing totally gives up. These indicators vary in severity and can be pretty subtle. Be careful, if you don’t catch a failing bearing in time the result could be some serious damage that could make your car dangerous to drive. Once a bearing begins to fail it wears at an increasing rate, the worse it get the faster it gets worse and the harder you drive or the more load you put on it the faster it’ll wear.

Usually you’ll notice some kind of noise first. Here is a short list of noises that could indicate a worn or failing wheel bearing.

Snapping, clicking or popping.
This can indicate a worn or damaged outer CV-joint. However, it also can be related to excessive bearing endplay, usually associated with inadequate bearing pre-load. This noise is typically heard when cornering or making sharp turns.

Grinding when the vehicle is in motion.
Usually this means there is mechanical damage in a wheel bearing. The noise is normally heard when turning or when there is a shift in load.

Humming, rumbling or growling.
These noises are normally associated with tire or drivetrain components. If it’s related to your wheel bearings you’ll hear the noise or vibration when driving in a straight line, but it’ll get louder when you turn the steering wheel slightly to the left or right. Typically, the side opposite the rumbling is the defective side.

Pulling when brakes are applied.
This isn’t normally associated with bearing failure, but it can be sometimes. Usually this is because of a defective brake caliper, worn brakes or rotors. However, severe looseness related to a bearing can also cause excessive runout, which may cause the brakes to pulsate or pull.

ABS failure, which could be internal or external to the bearing or hub bearing assembly.
In extreme cases, internal and external sensors can be damaged by a worn bearing. This is because as the bearing fails it can wreck sensors that are mounted very close to other parts inside or outside the bearing.

Like I said at the beginning, if you think you may have a bad wheel bearing take it in to your local mechanic and have him put your car on a lift. Once on a lift it’s easy to check all four wheels and either give it a clean bill of health or make repairs. I mean, if your suspicions are that strong, take it in and find out for sure.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe Arizona. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 8 12345...»