Check Engine Light – Don’t Let It Stay On Too Long

It is one of those things that can annoy you, confuse you and make you wonder if getting it checked out is worth it. That is the “Check Engine Light” when it comes on in your car. Being a driver of a finely tuned European engineered machine, seeing that light can be a daunting questioning exercise. What does it mean? What is wrong with the car? Why does it come on now when everything sounds fine? How much is it going to cost me to get it fixed? WHAT DOES THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT MEAN? When that light comes on it can mean a number of things. Primarily it is letting you, the driver; know that the on-board computer has detected an error that can affect the overall performance of your European automobile. Primarily it is a problem that is impacting the car’s engine. A check engine light being illuminated means your car will also fail an emissions test. Common Problems (minor to major) Loose Gas Cap Faulty Fuel Injector Blown Gasket Heads Faulty Oxygen Sensors Cracked and Loose Hoses Faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor Worn Out Spark Plugs and Wiring Emission Control System Malfunction Some owners have OBD code readers that can help them understand what error codes the on-board computer is experiencing and recording. These readers can be purchased at do it yourself automotive parts shops. The readers can also clear the codes and reset the Check Engine Light. Does that mean the problem with your car or engine is gone? No. WITH THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ON, WHAT TO DO? Even if you have an OBD...

10 Mistakes You Should Avoid With Your European Car

10 MISTAKES YOU SHOULD AVOID WITH YOUR EUROPEAN CAR You take pride in your automobile.  You did not just choose any car, you chose a European brand that reflects your status, your personality, and makes a statement about you.  That is why you should take care and avoid the following ten items that can place your car in the shop. Do any one of these then items and you could be looing at an expense headache.   HERE ARE THE TEN COMMON MISTAKES YOU SHOULD AVOID: Putting off recommended/scheduled maintenance Ignoring the “check engine light” Not changing the oil and oil filter at regular intervals Not keeping your tires properly inflated Neglecting to service your transmission, brakes, and cooling system Continuing to drive after your car has overheated Not having the fuel and air filters changed Taking your car to any shop as opposed to ones that know your vehicle intimately Using generic after market parts over manufacturer parts  Attempting to service your own vehicle A great example of a mistake that can snowball into a costly repair is the air filter.  An air filter is relatively inexpensive to replace, but failure to bring the car in for regular maintenance and/or oil changes means that you will miss getting it replaced.  An air filter that fails can bust your oxygen sensor.  A broken oxygen sensor will plunge your gas mileage, you will feel that your car does not “go” when you floor it, and you can destroy your catalytic converter.  Not to mention that you will fail your emissions test. We had a client who failed to get their...

Keep Your Keys By Your Bed

KEEP YOUR KEYS BY YOUR BED Here is a little tip that can help you at anytime. Put your car keys beside your bed at night. Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr’s office, the check-out girl at the market, basically everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It’s a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It should go off from most anywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the keychain. It works best if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are they won’t stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won’t want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared...

Winterizing Your Car

WINTERIZING YOUR CAR Driving in the Bay Area during winter is a beautiful experience.  The surrounding mountains and hills turn from gold to green.  The fog and overcast skies bring some seasonal diversity that is missed during the summer. The winter weather can test the limits of your Mercedes or BMW mechanical ability and create treacherous driving conditions can test your ability as a driver. There are some auto maintenance jobs and safety checks that are specific to chilled air and winter driving. To make sure you do not have to forgo some holiday presents this year, thanks to unexpected auto repairs, have our technicians look under the hood to be sure things are in top shape with your European Car. As with any change of season, you should go to your regular maintenance log to make sure your car is up-to-date on the maintenance items that should be taken care of throughout the year. The change of season is an ideal time to go through some once-a-year or twice-a-year auto maintenance tasks. HERE ARE SOME GREAT WINTER DRIVING TIPS TO GET YOUR CAR WINTERIZED: Inspect your oil: This should be done at least monthly. But in case you suffer from amnesia…it is advised to get an oil change as well. Inspect your brakes:  Brakes are not a good area to cut corners. Be sure your brakes have enough meat left on them to get you through the season. Inspect your tires: Winter is not the time to get cheap about your tires, so take the time to check the tread depth. The old penny test is as reliable as anything to find...

Why You Should Get A Used Car Checked Out

WHY YOU SHOULD GET A USED CAR CHECKED OUT So you’ve found the used car of your dreams.  Congratulations!  Buying used is a great way to get a quality car at a price that won’t destroy your bottom line. There are car history reports available.  Carfax.com is a popular resource, and it’s not bad, but you can’t be sure of a comprehensive view.  Services like Carfax  cannot be sure to collect a car’s entire history.  While major damage such as flooding or fire is likely to show up, repairs both major and minor need to be reported by the shop or dealership for Carfax to gather the information. Example: Fred is stopped at a red light when a drunk driver plows into him from behind.  The car is not totaled, but there is major damage to the frame and rear axle.  Fred takes his battered car to the dealership for repairs where they do not bother reporting the repairs in the car history.  As a result, the Carfax report on Fred’s car is clean. The best way to combat the risk of unreported damage or excessive wear is to get a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) on the car from a trusted independent mechanic.  The mechanic will be able to tell you the current condition of the car and will often provide his quote for any repairs he would recommend.  Potential quotes can also help you in price negotiations should you still want to pursue your...

European Car Ownership

EUROPEAN CAR OWNERSHIP There is a remarkable pleasure in owning a European car.  The ride is smooth, the turns are tight – when enthusiasts speak of their cars as being “finely tuned machines” they are not exaggerating.  European car makers do have a different philosophy in automotive engineering.  European cars are intentionally complex, especially when compared to American and Japanese automobiles, but they can be expected to last for decades and many hundreds of thousands of miles.  The underlying assumption of the European car manufacturers is that the owner of one of these special machines will pay as much attention to its care as they do in its design. A car is not the same as a toaster.  All car manufacturers design their cars to undergo regular maintenance at certain intervals.  However, maintenance schedules are where car manufacturers’ engineering philosophies truly begin to differentiate themselves.  There is a reason that popular Japanese car models are more coveted by car thieves than their European competitors.  Common car models such as the Accord and Camry use generic and thus interchangeable parts, creating a strong black market for cheap (often, stolen) parts.  The complex and highly engineered parts for European brands are not interchangeable because each part is designed to be maximally effective in its specific model and year. There is an inherent cost to car ownership that everyone must face.  Every car, regardless of make, model or year, requires some degree of maintenance and repair over the course of its lifetime.  From the cost of DMV registration and auto insurance to tire replacement and oil changes, it costs money to own...