Some Lancaster vehicle owners wonder why The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley and other Lancaster auto repair shops charge a fee for vehicle diagnostics.
Receiving a diagnostic charge at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for a tricky automotive problem shouldn't be a surprise. In the Lancaster area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your vehicle brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy California road, you pull off at the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you're having an intermittent problem with your vehicle engine, however, a The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley diagnosis may be much more involved.
Much of the Lancaster driver's confusion comes when the problem involves the Check Engine light. The Check Engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.
There's a common misconception among California drivers that the trouble code tells the The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician exactly what's wrong. They wonder why there is a diagnostic charge because the scanner quickly gave the diagnosis.
In reality, it is not that easy and straightforward. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that's out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light.
The vehicle computer's trouble code just tells the The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what's causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that's causing the malfunction.
There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley customers. The service advisor makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem. This takes time.
Lancaster service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for all the possible trouble codes. The databases outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented repair. These databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.
Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved, time-consuming and difficult. Of course The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley wants to figure out what's wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
Coolant/Antifreeze Service in Lancaster, California
Feb 22, 2012
Lancaster auto owners may know that most automotive failures in Lancaster, California, are tire related, but do you know the second most common cause of vehicle failure? Nope, it's not teenagers. It is the coolant system. But if you take good care of your vehicle coolant system, it will take good care of you.
A vehicle's engine creates a lot of heat - so much heat, that if it is not properly cooled, the engine can lock up, resulting in massive damage and repair bills. But when everything is working right, your vehicle engine operates at the proper temperature and all is well. Without antifreeze in your cooling system, the water could freeze and cause vehicle engine damage. This could be very expensive, not to mention inconvenient.
The right mix of water and antifreeze protects the engine against damage from freezing and overheating. Antifreeze also protects the coolant system against corrosion that could cause the system to fail. The thing to remember is this: coolant system failure is very common, but it is also very easy to prevent. Your Lancaster service center knows the manufacturer's recommendations and can tell you when the coolant needs to be changed. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, we can perform a coolant system service.
Lancaster auto owners can add water or antifreeze to the bottle themselves but should be careful. First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. The steam could severely burn you. Second, try to get to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your owner's manual. Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze or you will damage your engine. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with a service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley where they can make necessary corrections. Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze.
Lancaster technicians will need to check their vehicles owner's manual to make sure they use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle cooling system. If you're not sure, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for guidance.
Deciphering the The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Menu Board
Feb 16, 2012
Let's talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Lancaster, California, service centers like The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don't know what these services really are unless they ask. Let's go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.
Feel free at any time to give The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley a call at 661-949-8484 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Lancaster, California auto center at 226 West Avenue I, 93534.
First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles/kilometers the service should be done.
Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.
Alignment. Service centers like The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.
Battery service. Service centers like The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery's ability to hold a charge. If the battery's still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.
Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.
The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often overlooked.
Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.
Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.
Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don't require service very often, so people don't think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.
Engine air filter. This filters the air that's burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.
Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.
Odometer Rollback on Your Lancaster, California Vehicle
Feb 08, 2012
How do Lancaster drivers know if an odometer is telling the truth?
Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect California consumers against mileage fraud. It says a California seller must certify the mileage reported is the actual mileage.
To have your odometer checked in Lancaster, California, stop by The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley:
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley 226 West Avenue I Lancaster, California 93534
If it isn't, the seller must say why; for example, maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.
If the seller tells you the mileage isn't accurate, there's not much chance of putting a good number to it. And there's the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it isn't. What can Lancaster vehicle owners do?
You can go to www.CarFax.com, where, for a small fee, they'll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your vehicle, showing local Lancaster, California, ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.
You can get a mileage history by checking with the local California DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car was bought and sold. If there are signs of odometer rollback, now you'll know.
If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There's always another vehicle.
Maintaining Your Older Car in Lancaster, California
Feb 01, 2012
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Lancaster, California: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Lancaster motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new vehicle.
Because new vehicles are more expensive, people in the Lancaster area are driving their old vehicles longer. The average vehicle is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in California have more than 75,000 miles (120,000 km) on them. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin'.
Give The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley a call at 661-949-8484 to schedule your next maintenance.
Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles (120,000km).
First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles (24,000, 48,000, 72,000 and 96,000 km) and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule; ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks; seals and gaskets dry out over time and don't hold the fluids as well as they used to.
It's also time to make sure you have a good technician, like those here at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble's brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.
And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles (80,000 km), consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it's way cheaper than a new car payment!