Archive for June 26, 2015

How Your Check Engine Light Works

Have you ever had an experience like this in Auburn California? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!

You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.

You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.

Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.

Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.

It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now.

Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.

The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.

Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Auburn California shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?

Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.

The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.

The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.

The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?

Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.

Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.

You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?

You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.

There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.

There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.

A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Auburn California service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.

The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.

So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.

How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Euro Motors. Give us a call at 530-776-5343 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.

Emergency Items For Sacramento car owners

Safe California travel starts with preventive maintenance and good car care at Euro Motors. But there are other things Auburn drivers can do to prepare for emergencies on the road. Here’s some auto advice that can help you plan for emergencies, and just may save your life — or someone else’s.

First, Auburn drivers should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their car. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.

Some vital items you should carry in your Sedan include jumper cables (or a booster box), flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools. Other useful items include gloves, two quarts of oil, some antifreeze, water and everything you need to change a tire. You might also consider a can of tire inflator, which is a great temporary fix for minor flats.

But taking care of your Sedan is only part of emergency preparedness. It is important to take care of the people in the car, too. For this reason, you should carry a first aid kit, drinkable water and blankets. Other items to consider include high-calorie food items (like energy bars), toilet paper, a towel, a hat and boots. And, of course, when you travel in California and out-of-state you should always have your cell phone, some emergency cash and a credit card.

Depending on where you live, you may need to add other critical items to this list. For example, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra water would be good to have on hand in a hot climate. For the cold and snowy California season, some salt, a hand shovel, emergency blankets and matches might be in order. Also, if your California area is prone to severe weather or earthquakes, you should check with your local Red Cross or disaster preparedness office for their recommendations on what to keep on hand in your Sedan for emergencies.

When you travel away from your Auburn home, you should check the weather forecasts before you leave, and pack appropriate emergency supplies. Also, do some research about the areas you will be traveling through so you can be prepared for the climate and terrain. Remember the basics: heat, water, shelter, light, and food.

When you travel, it is critical to leave your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Check in periodically at prearranged checkpoints. That way, if something does happen, someone else will quickly know you are in trouble and will be able to send help. These checkpoints will also help rescuers find you quickly, as they will have a better idea as to where you are.

The automotive professionals at Euro Motors want Auburn drivers to be safe
. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.

Euro Motors Service For Your Exhaust System

Your Sedan’s exhaust system is more than just a tailpipe and a muffler. In fact, it is one of the most complex systems on your Sedan. Maintaining it is good Euro Motors auto advice for Auburn auto owners, but it’s also good health advice and good environmental advice.

The exhaust system includes your emissions system. Because this system may affect your health and the health of our Sacramento area environment, it is subject to strict government regulations. Satisfying these regulations demands some high-tech, computer-controlled equipment, which means that the emissions system is a lot more sophisticated than it was thirty years ago. Most manufacturers recommend that you have your Sedan exhaust and emissions systems checked by a qualified technician at regular intervals.

The exhaust system starts with the exhaust manifold. Euro Motors Service For Your Exhaust SystemThe manifold is attached to the Sedan engine. It collects exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe. Gaskets seal the connection of the manifold to the engine and to other joints. A cracked or loose manifold or a leaking or damaged gasket can allow dangerous gases to enter the passenger compartment of a vehicle. One of these gases is carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and deadly. For this reason, it is essential that Sacramento drivers keep their exhaust system in good repair.

The pipes that connect the various parts of the exhaust system can rust or be damaged by rocks or other road debris. Such damage can cause dangerous gases to leak into the air. So it is critical that exhaust pipes get an inspection regularly.

The catalytic converter is the next vital component of your Sedan exhaust system. It sort of looks like a muffler. Its job is to change dangerous gases into harmless carbon dioxide and water. The catalytic converter doesn’t require any regular maintenance, but it can wear out. If it fails, you will need a new catalytic converter to pass an emissions test in California. Call Euro Motors at 530-776-5343 if you suspect a problem with your catalytic converter.

Oxygen sensors in the exhaust pipe monitor the oxygen content of the exhaust. This helps the Sedan engine’s computer keep the fuel-to-air mixture at optimal levels.

The muffler is also part of your Sedan exhaust system, but it deals with a different kind of emission. It keeps your Sedan from emitting bad sounds. Mufflers act like finely tuned musical instruments. They create a feedback of sound waves to absorb or decrease the noises made by your engine. Different mufflers can create different sound waves, so you can actually “tune” your car to produce a particular sound, anything from whisper to rumble.

It is essential for damaged mufflers be replaced immediately at your Auburn automotive service center, especially if they are leaking. Not only will the extra noise annoy your Auburn neighbors, a leaky muffler could be serious.

The entire exhaust system is attached to your Sedan by hangers and clamps. These fasteners can rust, come loose or break. The important components of the exhaust system can get very hot, so when the hangers or clamps fail, these hot components can come into contact with other parts such as wires and hoses. These can melt, causing serious and pricey damage to your vehicle. Good car care requires that you have your exhaust system inspected regularly.

Let’s not forget the tailpipe. It’s the last vital piece in the exhaust system — and of your Sedan, for that matter. Exhaust fumes exit your Sedan through the tailpipe.

If your Sedan has any of the following symptoms, it may have a problem with the exhaust system: it’s hard to start, it runs rough, it’s noisy, it’s smoking. Also, if your “check engine” light comes on, especially if it’s flashing, it is important to get your Sedan to Euro Motors in Auburn right away. Often, the “check engine” light indicates a problem with the emissions system.

Caring for your Sedan exhaust system yields cosmetic benefits like quieting your engine sounds, but also may impact your health and safety. Your life, or the life of a loved one, may actually be on the line.

Auburn Road Trip Preparation

People from Auburn California love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a California road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.

Heading out on a California road trip? Stop by Euro Motors before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair.
10068 Streeter Rd. #14, Auburn, California 95602
Call us at 530-776-5343

Let’s look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip and what you might do to avoid them.

It all starts with a thorough trip inspection by your Auburn California service professionals at Euro Motors. Let’s talk about some of the items on the trip inspection checklist.

The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can’t always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.

A good tire inspection will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.

Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You’ll also want to know if it’s time to service your brake fluid. Over time water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.

While looking under your car, your Auburn auto technician should also inspect your suspension system for worn or damaged parts. If you need new shocks or struts, you’ll really notice the difference on your trip once you have them replaced.

Now the second most common vehicle failure is the cooling system. It may be time for a coolant exchange or flush. These services remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replaces it with fresh, clean fluid that restores the effectiveness of your cooling system.

The cooling system inspection will reveal leaks and weakened hoses. Replacing worn parts, like the radiator cap or water pump may be indicated. Even though cooling system failure is fairly common, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to prevent with proper maintenance.

Another thing people often overlook their transmission service. This is very important before a road trip because transmission problems tend to take some time and money to get fixed. Not the way you want to spend your vacation.

Your technician will inspect your belts to see if they should be replaced. A failed belt is at best an inconvenience. He’ll also give your exhaust system the once over to make sure there aren’t any dangerous leaks that could harm you and your passengers.

Of course, there are the usual things as well. An oil change, engine air filter, fuel system cleaning, a tune up. If you need any of these things, get them done today at Euro Motors – the improved fuel economy will be appreciated on your road trip.

If your heater or air conditioning isn’t working as well as you’d like, let your Auburn California service consultant know at Euro Motors.

Some important items that are often overlooked are power steering service, differential service and timing belt replacement. If these things don’t ring a bell, have your service consultant check to see if they’re due.

Now while you’re out seeing the sights, you’ll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren’t working well. And don’t forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don’t even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They’ll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?

Is Your Auburn Driving Severe?

People near Auburn California often ask Euro Motors how often they should have a particular service done. It’s a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner’s manual, or have your Auburn California service advisor at Euro Motors look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Auburn California will say that their driving is normal and that the ‘regular’ schedule probably applies to them. ‘Severe service’ sounds pretty extreme – ‘I don’t drive like that’.

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles.
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • Drive with a car-top carrier.
  • Stop and go driving.
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather.

If that’s severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I’m thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I’m on the freeway.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Auburn. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here’s what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with ‘regular’ on one end and ‘severe’ on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it’s closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it’s closer to 5,000 miles. Your Auburn California auto service advisor at Euro Motors will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren’t as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don’t drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won’t evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You’ve made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.