TOP 4 Reasons NOT To Panic When Your Check Engine Light Comes On.

You’re driving along, singing a song, and everything’s fine and dandy.

Then you see it … the orange-red glow of the check engine light. And suddenly life’s not so hunky-dory anymore.

Do you drive straight home? Pull over? Check something? Panic?!

While there are literally dozens of reasons your check engine light may be triggered, there’s typically no need to panic. Here’s why.

1. It might just be your gas cap

Many people don’t know this, but a loose, cracked, or faulty gas cap can cause fuel to evaporate, thus cuing your check engine light.

So first things first, pull over (as soon as it’s safe) and make sure your gas cap is on tight. If this was indeed the trigger, your check engine light should go off within 10 or 20 miles once you’re back on the road.

2. A certified mechanic should be able to diagnose the problem easily

Technology is on its way to helping us figure out what’s gone wrong when the check engine light comes on. But for now, whenever that pesky light comes on, your best bet is to take your car to a certified mechanic and let them diagnose the problem.

3. It’s typically not an emergency

Here’s where there’s some good news. Unlike some of the other lights in your car (your oil light, for example) that could mean a big problem if you don’t address it right away, your check engine light rarely signals anything disastrous.

When it comes on you’re probably okay to drive a few more miles or even a few more days. (That being said, do the smart thing and take it to see a mechanic as soon as you can.)

4. There are numerous reasons the light may come on

Aside from a loose gas cap, all other reasons for your check engine light coming on are much more complicated to diagnose (and likely not things you can fix on the side of the road). Triggers can include everything from a damaged vacuum hose or ignition coil(s) to a failing catalytic converter to worn out spark plugs (just to name a few).

No idea what any of that means? That’s OK — most of us don’t. Most modern cars have an on-board diagnostic system that provides a code identifying the specific issue at hand. If you take your car to a pro,  they can figure out what the code means so you can act accordingly.

So when you see that light flickering in the corner of your dash, know that while you will need to see a mechanic in the near future, there’s absolutely no need to panic. It’s ok to keep going, just make sure you have it checked out as soon as you can.

 

Article Credits: Heidi

All About Those MPG’s!

As gas prices remain high, improving your car’s mileage is crucial. By stretching a tank of gas further, you can reduce the amount of times you must fill up per month, which can help you stick to your budget. This is especially important for those who purchased non-efficient cars when gas was cheaper. But regardless of what car you drive, you can always use a little extra money at the end of the month, and cutting back your gas expenses is a great way to pad your bank account.

There are a range of tips, from basic to advanced, that you can implement today to help increase your mileage and save money on gas.

Basic Tips

1. Reduce Excess Weight
You’d be surprised how much all that junk in your car’s trunk can weigh. If your car has front-wheel drive, putting extra weight on the rear axle means the front wheels aren’t getting as good a grip as they could be, which reduces your mileage. Furthermore, extra weight means the engine has to work a little harder to move the car, which also reduces your gas mileage. If you’re carrying a lot of weight, lightening the load can help you get a mile or two more per gallon.

2. Properly Inflate Tires
I usually inflate my tires when they look low, but even if they are slightly low, undetectable to the eye, they could significantly reduce your mileage. Basically, under-inflated tires result in your engine using more gas to move the car.

Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure indicated in your owner’s manual for the best balance between gas mileage and traction. This will translate into significant savings, as being under-inflated by 10 PSI per tire can cost you five MPG or more.

3. Replace Air Filter and Spark Plugs
Replacing the air filter and spark plugs during a routine auto checkup not only helps your car last longer, but it can help your engine burn gas more efficiently.

4. Use the Recommended Motor Oil
Don’t think that using any old type of motor oil will work for your car – its engine is designed to work best with a specific type. If you use a heavier weight oil than is recommended, this could create too much friction and cause the engine to work harder and burn more fuel. Check your owner’s manual to see what’s recommended for your car, and utilize only that type of oil.

5. Check Your Gas Cap Seal
Over time, the rubber seal on your gas cap will start to break down, allowing oxygen to leak into the gas tank. This causes an overabundance of air to enter the engine as it pulls gasoline from the tank, and in turn the engine burns more gas.

Replacing the gas cap is quite simple for most cars, and doing so every few years means you’ll always have a gas cap with a nice tight seal. You can usually get a new gas cap for $20 to $30 at the dealership – and while it may be cheaper to purchase at an auto parts store, many cars have sensors built in to detect the gas cap’s seal, and the sensors may not recognize a non-dealer part.

fuel filler cap male hand

Intermediate Tips

6. Drive at the Speed Limit or Below
Most cars burn gas less efficiently at speeds of 60 miles per hour or higher. Driving slower has an immediate effect on your gas mileage – plus, it keeps you from getting costly speeding tickets. Cars vary at which speeds they are most efficient, but none have a top-efficiency speed greater than 60 miles per hour.

7. Coast to Stop Signs and Red Lights
When the light halfway down the block starts to turn yellow, punching the accelerator won’t get you there before it turns red. However, if you take your foot off the gas pedal and coast until you stop, you can save much more gas than if you accelerate to the red light before stopping. You can also do this on the highway when taking an exit ramp or when approaching a bend in the road. Any time you know you’ll need to stop or decelerate soon, coast to save yourself gas.

8. Use Cruise Control
When I’m driving on the highway, I often end up matching the speed of the vehicle in front of me without realizing it. Unfortunately, this is often the case even if the person is driving well over the speed limit.

Using cruise control helps me maintain a safe, legal, and gas-efficient speed, regardless of the speed that others around me are driving. Plus, using cruise control helps reduce the need to accelerate and brake, which makes travel more gas-efficient.

Final Word

You don’t necessarily have to go out and purchase a brand new fuel-efficient car to save on gas. There is plenty you can do to increase your gas mileage, and using these tips will help you save a lot of money – especially if you drive a lot or have multiple cars draining your family’s monthly budget. Keep in mind that taking your car in for regular checkups and tuneups can also save you a great deal of money. A car that doesn’t run at its optimum performance level can cost you a lot in the long run.

 

Article Credits: Kira Botkin

How Important is it to Remember your Oil Changes?

Are you keeping up with your oil changes?

As a vehicle owner it is necessary to provide your car with numerous forms of auto maintenance that ensure you don’t end up stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck in anticipation of an extensive and expensive auto repair. The maintenance service most frequently required by your car or truck is an oil change. Oil changes are absolutely necessary for a healthy engine, as is all forms of scheduled auto maintenance.

Why Is Auto Maintenance Necessary?

Auto maintenance consists of many different services that are all aimed at keeping your car running great. “But my car is already running great”, you say. Sure, it may seem strange to have to spend money on a car that is working just fine now, but neglecting auto maintenance will result in your vehicle’s mechanical condition quickly deteriorating. For example, not changing the oil in your car will result in the engine eventually having a real meltdown, requiring very expensive repair. Here’s how an oil change can keep your car’s engine in top notch shape.

Provides Necessary Engine Lubrication.

The most important thing to remember about oil changes is that the fresh oil ensures that there is proper lubrication for the engine’s many moving parts. As oil ages it loses its lubricating capabilities, resulting in harsh metal on metal contact. The friction among the moving engine parts will cause them to wear down, first resulting in decreased performance and as the problem grows worse, an engine that won’t be able to work at all.

Removes Engine Gunk.

A big bonus of oil changes is that when the old oil is drained it brings all the contaminants that have made their way inside the engine back out. As oil rushes through the motor it collects dust, dirt, metal shavings and several other contaminants that can hinder engine performance.

Helps Regulate Engine Temperature

While the cooling system generally keeps the engine temperature low, oil can indeed help. Oil not only helps reduce heat production by reducing heat friction, fresh oil is also engineered to absorb heat, keeping everything inside cool.

Never put off auto maintenance, especially oil changes. They’re a fast and affordable way to keep your car running strong. If you need an oil change in San Luis Obispo visit Franta’s Auto. We offer all sorts of auto services for all makes and models of import and domestic cars, trucks and SUVs. Give our friendly team a call at (805) 464-8598 to request an appointment.

Uber: Good for You, Potentially Bad for Your Car.

 

Uber

We definitely see more Uber and Lyft drivers than Taxi drivers in 2018, and it appears to be a great profession! Drivers have the ability to make their own hours, drive in the comfort of their own car, and establish a good rating on the app as a better driver. I recently came across an article that served as a “Buyers Guide” for what to consider when purchasing or leasing a car to use when you want to start a career with Uber. There are some great tidbits of information in the article, however it is missing a HUGE piece of the car buying puzzle. Take a Look at the article and see if you can spot the issue I have been challenged with.

View the Article from Ridester.com HERE.

Although the article is advertised as “The Ultimate Car Buying Guide” for Uber and Lyft drivers, they barely skimmed the surface on a very important topic. In the middle of the article, it is mentioned that a driver should buy a vehicle that is relatively cheap to repair. What exactly does this mean? How can you determine if a car is cheaper to repair than another? Are there other factors that a consumer might need to weigh into the category of “repair costs?” This article fails to answer some of these questions and ultimately might lead to a Driver making a poor choice and going belly up. I have a few tips for anyone who wants to weigh the Pros and Cons of repair cost as cars age.

This article does  a fantastic job of showing how buying a car that is a few years old can significantly cut the price down if a driver is looking for a more economical vehicle. However, some of the vehicles on their list come with a hefty repair bill. Some of the vehicles, such as the Honda Odyssey, Listed as #1 for drivers looking to drive for UberXL actually ended up with a recall of about a million cars due to rear seat malfunction. The recall includes Vans from 2011 to 2017 which include the recommended vehicle mentioned in this article. Why is this a problem?

If a driver decides to purchase a used Odyssey based on this articles findings, and a passenger is injured due to the rear seat malfunctioning, it can not only cause injury and negatively effect the drivers rating, it could potentially cause Uber to terminate affiliation with that driver indefinitely. With this being said, even if you do not drive for Uber, its extremely important to review all details about a car before you make the decision to buy.

Here is my top 5 list of things you must check off before purchasing your new ride!

    1. Carfax – this easy to use form can show a buyer if a vehicle has had routine maintenance, any accidents, number of owners, and reported mileage. It is not free, however its definitely worth every penny if a buyer sees their new vehicle as an asset.
    2. Test Drive – The vehicle a customer buys should be both comfortable for them, and the people around them. If someone is used to driving a Prius and decides to trade in their old vehicle and buy a Suburban, they might find that something so large is not easy for them to handle and they might experience buyers remorse, or cause an accident.
    3. Take it to a Certified Mechanic- An inspection is key when buying a used car. Not all issues are visible, and it takes a trained eye to spot a problem before it happens. A trusted auto shop with good reviews and certified mechanics is a consumers best bet for an honest inspection.
    4. Review warranty/insurance options- An Uber driver that drives during peak hours is driving during extremely high risk and dangerous times. Peak times  are more dangerous due to drunk, distracted, and impaired drivers (since more of them are on the road than other times). Good insurance is very important. Once someone start driving with Uber, the warranty for their vehicle is terminated. Meaning that all repairs on commercial vehicles are not covered by a dealers warranty. A consumer will definitely need to purchase secondary warranty coverage or extremely extensive insurance to cover costly repairs.
    5. Check TSB and Recall Information- A TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) is information sent out by the manufacturer of the vehicle to inform auto repair facilities of defects that the vehicle has and how to fix those issues. A Recall is a manufacturing defect that affects the safety of the passenger, which means the vehicle has to be brought back to the dealer and fixed at no charge to the buyer  in order to prevent injury or death. Both of these are important to know about when purchasing a vehicle due to the amount of time it could take out of the drivers Day or Week to fix it, as well as ensuring the safety of their passengers. A day in the shop is one less day the driver can be earning, and a recall could indicate a life threatening hazard.

Driving for Uber accelerates the wear and tear on your vehicle. The typical driver puts about 13 thousand miles on their car in a year, however Uber drivers put, on average, a very hefty 50 thousand miles a year. These numbers mean that your costs for repairs are going to be 284% higher each year.

At the end of the day, Buying or Leasing a vehicle is an incredibly complicated process, however mechanics are here to make the process easier for the consumer. With the right tools and information a buyer can be confident in their vehicle choice and ultimately their investment in their future career with Uber.

Welcome to: Ask A Mechanic!

Hello Readers,

I would like to formally welcome you to one of the most honest blogs you will ever encounter that has been written by an actual mechanic. Operating in the beautiful Central Coast of California, I am a self employed mechanic with drive and ambition to help people understand their car is a very complex machine that needs to be taken care of to extend its lifetime!

Its true, Mechanics have a bad reputation. Dishonest and filthy people who will do anything to fish every last dollar out of your bank account during your time of need. However, don’t get me wrong, there are always bad apples, and just one can ruin the bunch. I am attempting to change this stigma by providing completely free estimates and an easy to understand repair estimate so you really know whats going on under the hood.

I have a few core principles:

  • First, always get a second opinion from a mechanic that is NOT trying to sell you something.
  • Second, being INFORMED is important, you drive every day. Your car needs to be RELIABLE!_DSC0164
  • Lastly, Trust in the A.S.E. SEAL. A certified mechanic has gone out of his way to prove he knows your car. “Backyard Bob” might provide a cheap service, but he probably watched one YouTube video and decided to give it a go. Not to mention, “Dishonest Dave” Just wants to up-sell you more parts and services you don’t actually need.

I hope you find plenty of useful information on this blog, and I look forward to helping you understand your car better, and answer any questions you may have. I can be reached through the comment section on this blog, the contact page, and my social media links!