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. I hope you’ll consider All Tune and Lube Tempe.
Here in Tempe Arizona your cars’ air conditioning isn’t just a convenience, it’s almost vital. As I’m writing this it’s early February and we’re already in the 80’s. When it’s hot outside and your car A/C doesn’t work, that’s a problem.
Your cars’ air conditioning system is basically pretty simple but it works at substantial pressures and all the pieces have to work in balance. You have 4 basic components to your A/C system plus the refrigerant: a compressor to compress the refrigerant, a condenser to remove the heat from the compressed refrigerant, an expansion valve that makes the refrigerant cold and an evaporator that uses the now cold refrigerant to cool the air coming in to your car.
The most common problem we see at All Tune & Lube in Tempe is a low refrigerant charge. What you’ll typically notice at first is that the air conditioning doesn’t work well until you’re on the freeway then over time it stops working altogether. You can charge the system yourself, kinda, and it’ll work OK at least until it runs low again. You’re A/C is a sealed system and if it runs low on refrigerant that means you have a leak, for sure. If you have your system re-charged at a good shop they’ll check for leaks first, though not all leaks are easy to find. When the system is re-charged the shop will put in a bit of dye that will show up if the leak persists or another leak happens.
Another problem we see regularly here at All Tune and Lube Tempe is that for one reason or another the compressor is not coming on even though there’s a good charge of refrigerant in the system. There are several things that can cause this to happen, a faulty sensor, relay or fuse, a bad compressor or compressor clutch or even a computer issue. In a case like this it’s best to take it to a shop because diagnosing the problem can be tricky.
More rarely you might have an issue where everything seems to be working as it should but you’re still getting hot air from the A/C. In situations like that you may well have a blend door that’s stuck, keeping the cold air from getting to you. The blend door is a like a valve in your A/C that mixes hot and cold air so you get just the temperature you want, just like the hot & cold water taps on your sink. These are often a beast to repair so unless you’re feeling really adventurous leave it to a pro.
There are other things that can go wrong with your cars’ air conditioning but this will cover the vast majority of problems. If you need to take your car in for A/C repairs I hope you’ll choose us, All Tune & Lube, Tempe Arizona.
Here at All Tune and Lube in Tempe one of the questions we hear from time to time is “How can I make my car last?” There really isn’t and big mystery, just keep up on your scheduled maintenance and fix things before they become an emergency.
Here are the key items needed to keep your car alive:
- Change your oil on a regular basis! This is the biggest one. With conventional motor oil we recommend every 3,000 miles or 5-months. With synthetic motor oil every 5-6,000 miles or 6-months. The summer heat here is tough on an engine and your oil. If the oil isn’t changed regularly the engine will wear out faster than it needs to. You’ll also develop annoying oil leaks faster than you would otherwise.
- Keep a close eye on the condition of your automatic transmission fluid and get it serviced regularly! This is another big one and also an item that folks often overlook. There are a few newer cars that don’t require a transmission service so you want to check but for everyone else the transmission should be serviced every 30-60,000 miles, depending on the car and how you use it.
- Keep your belts and coolant hoses in good shape. A badly overheated engine is very often a ruined engine.
- Proper tire inflation is the key to the longevity of the tires. Underinflated tires wear the outside of the tread too quickly, over inflated tires wear the center out. Improper inflation is also pretty dangerous so stay on top of it.
- If you hear or feel something out of the ordinary find out what it is and get it fixed.
- If you don’t do the work yourself find an ASE Certified full service auto repair shop you trust and take it to them for everything. A good shop will be able to keep track of the maintenance you’ve had done to your car, what items will be needing attention in the future and they’ll be able to prioritize maintenance and repair issues so that you can budget for them.
There are plenty of additional items that could be put in here but these are the high spots. Of course All Tune & Lube in Tempe would like to be the shop does the work for you but regardless, take care of your car and it will last a very long time. That way you can brag about how wise you were in your decision to buy it!
Tips On How To Choose a Car Repair Shop
Choosing a car repair shop can be difficult. The problem with choosing a car repair shop is that there are so many options. Doing a simple Internet search for car repair shops can yield a ridiculous amount of results in your local area. For this reason, we will discuss a few simple tips you can use in order to help you with deciding on which car repair shop you should choose.
1. Pay attention to word of mouth.
You want to use car repair shops in Tempe, AZ that your friends, family, and coworkers recommend. There is nothing better than getting real reviews from people that you know and trust. This will ensure that you do not choose a company that is known for giving customers difficulties†and causing problems.
2. Search online for reviews.
You will want to utilize the Internet in more ways than just finding repair companies. You are going to want to search for which companies have the best online reputations. You can do this very easily by searching for the company in question and reviews. This search should bring up a lot of results that you can use in order to make a decision on which car repair shop to hire.
3. Get several estimates.
Never choose the first company that you see. This is because car repair shops, at least ones that are dishonest, tend to inflate prices. You want to get the best bang for your buck. For this reason, be sure to shop around and find the best price for your car repair. Obviously, the cheapest option is not always the best, but if you do enough research beforehand, you should be researching and requesting estimates online from all of the reputable companies.
Hopefully this article gave you sufficient insight on how to choose a car repair shop in Tempe, AZ. For all your auto repair shop needs in Tempe, AZ contact All Tune & Lube Total Car Care today at 480-966-1616.
Here’s a common issue, one that a lot of folks have to deal with way too often: A perfectly good car on which multiple maintenance items have been neglected. All the individual services needed to keep your car healthy and on the road are fairly easy to deal with when they’re done on schedule but if they’re put off there will come a time when they need to be done all at once, then the expense can seem overwhelming. Skipping transmission services eventually leads to a failed transmission. Don’t do oil changes, timing belt replacement, spark plug replacement and cooling system services on schedule and sooner or later the engine is damaged. Improper brake service or repair will create a dangerous situation. You get the idea. Stay up with your routine maintenance and save yourself the heartache.
Modern cars and trucks are tremendously reliable and durable but they’re just machines and won’t last without being cared for. Once upon a time, way back when I first started driving, a car with a hundred-thousand miles on it was at the end of its’ useful life. Very few cars lasted beyond ten years. Now, most cars aren’t even half way used up at a hundred-thousand and it’s not at all unusual for cars to see three-hundred thousand miles plus without any major issues. The reason vehicles last longer than they used to is because they’re better built and because drivers these days are better at maintaining their cars.
OK then this is how it should work. Keep in mind that the service intervals I use here are generic. The owners’ manual for your car will have the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Oil change every 3,000 miles. 5,000 miles if you’re using full synthetic.
Transmission service every 30,000 miles for most Asian cars, 60,000 miles for most domestics.
Differential service every 60,000 miles. Most front wheel drive cars don’t need this service.
Spark plugs every 60,000 to 105,000 miles depending on make and model.
Timing belt, if your car uses one, every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
Serpentine belts and radiator hoses every 3 to 5 years or whenever they show wear.
Find a full service auto repair shop you trust and have everything done there. Of course I want you to use ATL Total Car Care in Tempe but regardless, find a good shop and stay with them. The reasoning behind this is that any quality shop will keep the records of what’s been done to your vehicle, keep you informed about what maintenance and repairs you need to be prepared for and what maintenance items you need to take care of now. An added benefit is that the shop will have all the warranty information on the parts they’ve installed on your car.
Keep up with your maintenance and your car will last. Don’t and it won’t.
From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe Arizona. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.