Author Archives: Japanese Car Specialties

Performance Tuning for Japanese Cars: Enhancing Power and Handling

sleek black upgraded Toyota

Enhance Your Japanese Vehicle Today

Performance tuning for Japanese cars involves various modifications and upgrades aimed at enhancing power, handling, and overall driving experience. Here are some common strategies and techniques used in performance tuning for Japanese cars.

Engine Modifications

 Air Intake Upgrades

Installing a high-flow air intake system allows more air to enter the engine, improving combustion efficiency and increasing horsepower.

Exhaust System Upgrades

 Upgrading to a performance exhaust system reduces back pressure, enhances exhaust flow, and produces a more aggressive exhaust note. This can result in power gains and improved throttle response.

Engine Tuning

Adjusting the engine’s fuel and ignition timing parameters through remapping or aftermarket engine management systems can optimize performance for increased power and torque.

Forced Induction


Adding a turbocharger to the engine increases air intake pressure, allowing more air and fuel to be combusted, resulting in significant power gains.


Similar to turbocharging, superchargers increase air intake pressure but are driven directly by the engine via a belt, providing instant power delivery across the RPM range.

More Ways to Enhance Your Japanese Car

Suspension and Handling Upgrades

 Upgraded Springs and Shocks

Installing performance coilover suspension systems or aftermarket springs and shocks improves handling by reducing body roll and enhancing stability during cornering.

Sway Bars

Upgrading sway bars (anti-roll bars) reduces body roll and improves cornering grip by minimizing weight transfer.

Brake Upgrades

Upgrading to larger brake calipers, rotors, and high-performance brake pads improves braking performance and reduces stopping distances, crucial for high-speed driving and track use.

Drivetrain Enhancements

Limited-Slip Differential

Upgrading to a limited-slip differential enhances traction and improves power delivery to the wheels, especially during cornering and acceleration.

Short-Throw Shifter

Installing a short-throw shifter reduces shift throw distance, resulting in quicker and more precise gear changes, enhancing the driving experience, particularly in manual transmission cars.

Aerodynamic Modifications

Front Spoilers and Splitters

Adding front spoilers and splitters improves front-end grip and reduces aerodynamic lift, enhancing stability at high speeds.

Rear Wings and Diffusers

Rear wings and diffusers increase rear-end downforce, improving traction and stability, especially during high-speed cornering.

Weight Reduction

Lightweight Wheels

Upgrading to lightweight alloy wheels reduces unsprung weight, improving handling, acceleration, and braking performance.

Interior Stripping

Removing unnecessary interior components and replacing heavy parts with lighter alternatives reduces overall vehicle weight, improving performance and agility.

Professional Tuning and Dyno Testing

Consulting with professional tuners and utilizing dyno testing services can optimize engine performance, ensure proper tuning, and validate the effectiveness of modifications, resulting in reliable and consistent power gains.

When undertaking performance tuning for Japanese cars, it’s essential to consider the intended use of the vehicle, budget constraints, and the expertise of qualified professionals to ensure safe and effective upgrades that enhance both power and handling characteristics. Additionally, always adhere to local regulations and laws regarding vehicle modifications and emissions compliance.

How Long Can You Go Before Changing Your Oil?

Interior of engine.

Learn More About Oil Changes and Impact

Today, you’re as prone to see a German or Japanese car on the roads in Mission Viejo, California as you will an American-made car.  While each of these cars has pros and cons, and some have features and upgrades that others don’t, one area where they are all the same. They need basic maintenance and upkeep like car oil changes. 

How often do Japanese-manufactured cars need oil changes?

When you read the car owner’s manual’s fine print, the factory recommendation for car oil changes is between 3,500 and more than 10,000 milesHowever, if you have a mechanic that specializes in Japanese cars, they will ask you about your driving conditions, and then make the frequency determination as to what type of oil and oil filter your car needs.

Most mechanics, using those same factors of driving style, will recommend Japanese car oil changes every six months or every 5,000 miles, depending on which comes first. Is it OK to wait for car oil changes for a car with low mileage? Again, it will depend on your driving style, but in normal driving conditions as opposed to severe driving conditions, car oil changes can be done once a year. 

What is considered severe driving conditions?

Severe driving conditions are described in some car owners’ manuals as: 

  • Making frequent short trips under ten miles round-trip, especially in cold weather
  • Driving in heavy traffic that requires a lot of stop-and-go traffic
  • Driving on dusty, gravel roads
  • Driving on highways a lot, especially in the summer

 Is one type of car oil better than others? 

Car engine oil has different thicknesses, for hot and cold temperatures. A car engine needs to be matched up with the right thickness with each car oil change. For a top-quality oil, the one characteristic you want to make sure of is testing standards, like the American Petroleum Institute or a recognized international testing standard. 

If an API (American Petroleum Institute) is mentioned in car engine oil, you can feel comfortable knowing it is a tested product and found to be a good match. The last factor to be concerned with for a Japanese car oil change is that you get a full synthetic oil. 

How much does a car oil change cost for a Japanese car?

Some factors have an impact on car oil changes like the year, make, and model of the car, and the engine size. The engine size will determine the amount of oil needed. And if you choose a synthetic or semi-synthetic oil, the prices can vary a little bit between oil change centers, or if you choose a big box store mechanic service. The average cost today is around $100.00. The cost of crude oil by the barrel can affect the cost of car oil changes too. 

Are Japanese cars expensive to maintain?

Japanese-manufactured cars have a reputation for being durable and reliable. With that being said, they have less downtime, but when they need major repairs, it can be expensive. A Japanese car oil change is typically not any more expensive than other cars. 

What is the lifespan of Japanese cars? 

The average lifespan is around 10 years, but many car owners trade their cars every 3 to 4 years to have a new car warranty. Like any car, the driving conditions, driving style, and maintenance and upkeep routines, like scheduled car oil changes, will have an impact on the lifespan of any car. 

What happens when you don’t get a car oil change in a Japanese car?

When you drive over the recommended mileage for a car oil change, as the engine heats up, it doesn’t function as well and the components wear out faster. Like an American-manufactured car, the internal parts of the engine are metal, and fresh oil is necessary to keep them lubricated to prevent friction. 

 What are signs it is time for a car oil change?

Most oil change centers and garage shops put reminder stickers inside the driver’s side windshield. But you should be familiar with what indicators are telling you it is time for a car oil change: 

  • Strange Smells and Sounds

When car oil gets old, it can start to smell and you may hear loud sounds coming from the engine. In these instances, it is time for a car oil change. 

  • Oil and Smoke

A translucent trail of smoke coming from the tailpipes in the winter is normal, but if that smoke continues as you drive down the road, you may have an oil leak. Or when you check your oil, if it dark, dirty, or gritty, it is time for a car oil change. 

  • Can’t Remember The Last Time

If you aren’t able to remember when you got the last car oil change, you probably need to schedule one now! 

 In Closing

Next to your home, your car is an expensive and important investment. By maintaining a regular car oil change schedule, you’ll get a longer lifespan from your car. If you need a car oil change in Mission Viejo, CA, please reach out to our team today at 949-583-0811.

How Do I know if My Brakes Need Fluid?

Cark Brakes

Get Your Brake Fluid Checked

So, how can you tell if your car’s brake system needs fluid? Well, a sure indication would be when your car doesn’t stop. However, that can be for other reasons too like a broken brake line. It only makes sense to make sure you have ample brake fluid, just like you would the gas and oil, before you hit the roadways of Mission Viejo, California.

What is brake fluid and what does it do?

Brake fluid is a hydraulic type of fluid that runs through brake lines, reaching each wheel of a car. When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake fluid lets that force from pushing the pedal be applied to the brake lines, slowing the vehicle down to a complete stop. 

Should brake fluid be replaced, and if so, how often? 

Over time, brake fluid breaks down. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the brake fluid every 24 months. Other vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the brake fluid every 45,000 miles or every 3 years, whichever comes first.

Are there different types of brake fluid?

The braking system on every vehicle is designed to use a specific type of brake fluid. When it is time to add or change brake fluid, it is necessary to use the appropriate type. As mentioned earlier, brake fluid is a hydraulic type of fluid that relies on incompressible fluid to transmit force. 

When brake fluid reaches a certain boiling point, it becomes a gas substance and loses some of its braking power. This is why “riding your brakes” is not recommended. The different types of brake fluid are: 

  • DOT3
  • DOT4
  • DOT5 
  • DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluids absorb water and as it heats up to a boiling point, the water decreases. This saves your brake system from rusting.
  • DOT5 brake fluid doesn’t absorb water so the boiling point remains reasonably stable. However, because it doesn’t absorb water, if any water gets in the brake system, you can expect to need brake repair or replacement. 

What are the dangers of using the wrong type of brake fluid? 

Using the wrong brake fluid is just as damaging as using the wrong gasoline or oil. The lubrication process is affected and can lead to the brakes overheating. It can even cause your transmission to fail and the worse part of this is that the damage may not be repairable. 

What are the signs of a brake fluid leak? 

Properly working brakes have sufficient brake fluid and tightly connected brake lines. How can you tell if your car is leaking brake fluid? 


If your vehicle has brake fluid leaking, it will be a brownish, light yellow fluid pooling at the rear wheels. 


When the brake light is illuminated and stays illuminated, you need to have the brake fluid and the entire brake system checked. 


When you press on the brake pedal and it feels soft or spongy, check for the brake fluid. If the level is okay, take your car in for a brake inspection and repair. 


If the brake fluid level is low over a period of time, you probably have a brake fluid leak. You can check the brake fluid reservoir yourself or have your mechanic check it for you. 

What should I do if my brake fluid is low? 

If you have checked your own brake fluid level, you probably know where to add more brake fluid. This should be done before you drive the car any further.  If you have your brake fluid checked by a mechanic, they will add more fluid for you. If this is done while you’re getting your oil changed, some stations won’t charge you for the brake fluid. 

How can I tell if my brake fluid needs to be flushed?

In addition to having soft or spongy brakes, or the brake light is illuminated on your dash, there are two more indicators you need to have your car’s brake system flushed: 

  • Braking Performance Ineffective

Your vehicle’s brakes should be quick to respond when you press the pedal. If it delays in reacting or appears to have difficulties in slowing or stopping, have your mechanic do a brake flush and inspection. There may be warped rotors, the brake pads are worn, or there may be other issues with your vehicle.   

  • Strange Odors and Sounds

If you notice strange odors or sounds when you press the brake pedal, it could be an indication the brake fluid is low.

An Auto Technician Changes Brake Fluid.

In Conclusion

Your vehicle is an investment and the brake system is a crucial part of the investment. Taking the time to have the brake fluid in Mission Viejo, CA checked by a Japanese Car Specialties mechanic is well worth the time it takes, not to mention the safety factor for you, your passengers, and those around you. Schedule a fluid check today by calling 949-583-0811.

What Is Emission Testing?

Emissions Testing in Progress

Importance of Emissions Testing

Merriam-Webster has two definitions for ‘emissions’: 

1). Something sent forth by emitting such as electromagnetic radiation from an antenna or a celestial body. 

2) Substances discharged into the air from a smokestack or an automobile engine

It is the second definition that we’re going to talk about in this article today in the way of emissions testing.  Yes, the part where the inspection sticks a device in your vehicle’s tailpipe and determines if it is emitting toxins in the air. So, just what is emissions testing? 

Call it emissions testing or smog testing, some folks may call it an invasion, but whatever you choose, it is a real thing and is required by law now.  Emissions testing is used to test a vehicle’s emissions for causing excessive smog, adding to air pollution. This test is typically done when you take your vehicle in for a state inspection.

Why do we have to get emissions testing done?

In 1977, the federal government enacted an amendment to the CAA requiring all cars must undergo I/M inspection and maintenance programs to ensure they weren’t emitting more greenhouse gases and pollutants than each state’s limit. It is said by many that the state of California has some of the strictest guidelines when it comes to emissions testing, but other states with a high concentration of vehicles on the road have strict limits as well, like New York City. 

What are the emissions testing limits in California?

Your vehicle must show during the emissions testing that it has achieved optimum fuel combustion with a ratio of air to fuel of 14.7:1 during the combustion process. It is allowed a variance of +/- 5% to help the catalytic converter operate. 

In certain counties in California that have been declared to have a pollution problem, all vehicles are required to pass emissions testing using the Enhanced Version of the emissions testing. This is where a vehicle is connected to the dynamometer and ‘driven’ on the machine while the emissions testing samples are collected from the tailpipe. The emissions testing applies to vehicles that are 1976 and newer, including gasoline-powered, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel. 

How often does an emissions test need to be completed? 

As in most states, the state of California requires emissions testing on vehicles manufactured in 1976 and newer. What types of vehicles are exempt from emissions testing in California? An exception to this is diesel-powered vehicles manufactured in 1997 and older years have a GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 14,000 pounds and up.

What types of pollutants are tested for during an emissions test? 

During emissions testing, the parts per million are tested for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons that are being released as the vehicle is ‘driven’ on the dynamometer. What are the consequences of failing an emissions test? If the testing results don’t fall within the permissible criteria, the vehicle fails and cannot be driven until the matter is fixed and rested.

What are the benefits of passing an emissions test? 

Another year of happy motoring!  And you’ll know you’re doing your part in minimizing your carbon footprint by contributing less to the pollution problem that is plaguing this country.

Are emissions tests required in all states? 

Currently, there are thirty-four states that require emissions testing for vehicles with each state having its own requirements and rule. In some states, emissions testing is only required in certain counties, typically determined by population. You should check with the DMV in your state for exact requirements and rules in certain areas.

A Car's Exhaust System

Be Prepared! 

You can take steps to prepare your vehicle for emissions testing all year long and minimize the chance, even eliminating the risk of your vehicle not passing. 


If the “Check Engine” light is illuminated, that is an automatic failure. You can get this check engine light matter checked for free at many auto parts stores before taking it in for emissions testing. 


If you have had to have your vehicle jumpstarted recently or the battery replaced the battery, wait 7 to 10 days before having the emissions testing performed. 


Get an oil change prior to the emissions testing to ride any hydrocarbon and other pollutants that cause a failed emissions testing. 


A fresh tune-up will ensure that your vehicle’s engine is running at optimum condition but wait 7 to 10 days afterward before taking it in for the emissions testing. 


Make sure your car has ample coolant and gasoline when you take your car in for emissions testing. If your vehicle is low on gas, the fuel pump could be exposed, allowing vapor into the fuel line and resulting in failed emissions testing. 

While emissions testing can be a ‘pain’ to deal with, and many states are trying to find a way to help those with low income get past this step, it is for the good of our future and the world. If it’s time for your car’s emission testing in Mission Viejo, CA, set up your appointment today by calling Japanese Car Specialties at 949-583-0811.

How To Know When It’s Time To Change Brake Pads

close up of a brake pad on disc

About Brake Pads

The engine has oil, the tank has gas, and the tires are aired up. You are ready to hit the road for that long-awaited vacation outside of Mission Viejo, California.  But how are the brake pads? Once your car gets rolling, are you going to be able to stop suddenly? 

There are many components involved in the brake system, this is one of the more important systems. But the principle system: You press on the brake pedal, and the car stops, right? Actually, it is more complicated than that.

When the brake pedal is pressed, oil is dispersed to the calipers on each wheel and the caliper pistons. The caliper pistons push the brake pads against either discs or rotors, causing friction. It is that friction that slows the wheel rotation, and the car slows down and comes to a stop. If any of these components fail, the brakes fail, including the brake pads. How do I know when my brake pads need changing? The basic rule that car manufacturers and mechanics will recommend is to replace your car’s brake pads every 50,000 miles unless they need it sooner.

Five Signs

The following five signs are signs brake pads need replacing: 

  • Squeaking or Squealing 

This is usually the first sign that the brake pads need to be replaced, if the squeaking or squealing is persistently, non-stop.  

  • Indicator Light 

In newer cars, they are equipped with brake pad sensors that trigger the brake light. If the indicator light is illuminated, this is another indication that the brake pads need replacing.

  • Metal Grinding 

If you hear the sound of metal grinding on metal, it is time for new brake pads. 

  • Vibrating Pedal

When you press on the brake pedal and it vibrates, this indicates the brake pads have worn down. Usually, the metal grinding follows next.

  • Fourth Inch Thick

When you take your car to the mechanic, they will measure the brake pad thickness. If they are thinner than one-fourth of an inch, it is time for replacements. 

How do I check my brake pads?

The best way is to have a professional mechanic inspect your brakes. But you can check them yourself using the following steps after they have cooled down. 

  1. Check the brake fluid. If the brake fluid is dark, it is time for a brake system to flush and new fluid. 
  2. Check the wheels for a buildup of brake dust. Brake dust is good, that means your brake pads are working. IF there is no brake dust, the brake pads are worn and need to be replaced.
  3. Inspect the brake pads through the slots of the wheels. Using a flashlight and if they are ¼” thick, or thicker, they are still good. 
  4. Remove the wheels and examine the brake pads if you can’t see them through the wheel slots.  Make sure your car is on level ground and the wheels are scorched. Raise the car six inches up and remove the lug nuts and tires. You should have a clear view of the brake pads. Again, if they are ¼” thick or thicker, they are still good. 

Can I drive with brake pad warning light on?

If the brake light comes on, this is telling you it is time to have the brakes inspected while you still have brake pads left. Yes, you can drive the car for a short time, but too much driving will wear through the pads, to the rotors, and leave you with some expensive damage to repair. 

Brake pad and perforated brake discs on a dark gray table

What happens if you don’t replace brake pads?

There are 4 things that can happen when you ignore the brake light and the brake pads are worn: 

  • Your car doesn’t stop.
  • Brake calipers and rotors get damaged.
  • The tires wear down faster.

Can I just replace brake pads and not rotors?

Yes, if the brake rotors aren’t damaged or have worn too thin, changing just the brake pads will be sufficient. This is another time that taking your car to an experienced mechanic is the best solution, they are knowledgeable about the proper thickness of the rotors and pads. 

Should you replace all 4 brake pads at once?

Yes, even if they don’t all look to be worn the same, change all four brake pads at the same time. However, if they aren’t worn out approximately the same, you should have the complete brake system inspected. 

Do front brake pads wear faster than rear?

Yes, this is due to the bulk of the weight riding on the front ends when the brakes are applied. Over time, friction and heat contribute to the wear of brake pads.

Before You Hit The Road …. 

Before you start out on your vacation road trip, make sure your gas tank is full, the oil is at the proper level, and have your brakes checked. What is the average life of brake pads? There are several different compositions and types of brake pads and even more different rotors. The general mileage you can expect from your brake pads is between 30,0000 miles and 70,000 miles, with many of them lasting up to 100,000 miles. 

Japanese Car Specialties provides smooth services with brake pads in Mission Viejo, CA. Call 949-583-0811 for more information.

Why is My AC Running But Not Cooling in My Car?

air conditioner controls inside a car

Got AC Issues?

The state of California is concerned with all things environmental, but when the summer gets hot, you can be certain the air conditioners are going! And when the air conditioner isn’t working, the need for home and car AC repair service business gets booked up fast.  So, busy in fact, many people are trying DIY car AC repair because they can’t get an appointment, and the cost factor too. 

How much does it cost to check the AC in a car?

In California, you pay up to $300 for a professional diagnosis and inspection of your car’s air conditioning system. This includes the following components are checked: 

  • Belts
  • Connections
  • Hoses
  • Pressure lines

The technician will check for leaks and add removing all existing refrigerant before adding new refrigerant, which can cost an additional $150 to $250, depending on how many pounds are needed. If any additional car AC repairs are needed, like new belts, connections, or hoses, there will be additional costs.

Why is my car AC blowing cool air but not cold?       

If you have your car air conditioning set at max cool with the fan blowing high, but the air isn’t cold, check the following: 

  • Are the condenser or radiator cooling fans running while the AC is on?
  • Is there debris, leaves, bugs, or other articles blocking the condenser?
  • Check the cabin air filter isn’t clogged.

If all of this is in proper order, you can do your own pressure check if you have the equipment needed or schedule an appointment with your mechanic. This requires specialized car AC repair gauges and tools that check the high side and the low side pressure of the AC system. 

Most car AC repairs are for leaks within the air conditioning system, typically indicated by low pressure reading on the gauge.  Leaks are common around the connections and fittings, compressor hoses, O-rings, pressure switches, and seals. A hose could be crimped or the developed pinholes. 

Does car AC refrigerant run out and keep my car AC from blowing cold air? 

No, the refrigerant gas in your car’s air conditioning system doesn’t get ‘used up’ or ‘wear out’ like the motor oil and gasoline. If the air conditioning system is properly sealed, it shouldn’t ever ‘run out’ or be used up. 

It is common for most drivers to assume this is how the coolant or refrigerant works in their car’s air-conditioning system. But, as we just stated, if the system is properly sealed, the air conditioner can cool for years without any refrigerant being added. 

Yes, if the air-conditioning system in your car is losing the compressed refrigerant, it will keep the system from blowing cold air. The refrigerant gas of “Freon” is turned into a liquid as it goes through the system. It then releases the gas through the evaporator coil and then expands as the gas chills there, drawing heat from the air as it passes over. That chilled air then blows through the air-conditioner vents and keeps you cool.

So, if the system has leaked the refrigerant, your car will be filled with warm to hot air. When this happens, take your car in for professional car AC repairs. It could be an issue with the pressured lines or a leak in a hose. 

Why did my car AC suddenly stop working?

If your car’s AC just quit working all of the sudden, it is probably an electrical problem. It could be a blown fuse, the control module is malfunctioning, or the switches failed. A professional car AC repair shop can diagnose the problem and get your car cooling again. 

How do I know if my car AC compressor is bad?

If you are noticing any of the following, you need to schedule an appointment with your mechanic for car AC repair service before the compressor totally quits: 

  • Odd Noises: Odd, strange noises when the air conditioner is turned on are typically coming from the compressor. This component is a vital part of your car’s air conditioning system and if it is making grinding or whining sounds, the internal bearings are going bad. 
  • Hot Air: If your car’s AC isn’t blowing cold air through the vents, it is out of refrigerant and that is probably because the compressor has leaked it all out. As soon as the air is feeling warm from the AC, schedule a car AC repair appointment and have it checked. 
  • Leaking Fluid: The air-conditioning system in your car should not have any leaking fluid. This is an indicator that the internal bearings of the compressor are not doing their job, probably because they are worn out. 
  • Clutch Stuck: Your car’s AC compressor has a clutch as a manual transmission does, and it pulls power from the engine to make the AC work. If that clutch malfunctions or stops working, the compressor quits working too.

Can I just replace my car AC compressor?

Yes, a compressor can be replaced without having to replace the entire air conditioning system, but it is recommended to this be done by a professional car AC repair service center. A car AC system is under pressure, and it can be dangerous if you aren’t equipped with the proper tools and follow the proper procedure. 

Should I replace my car AC condenser?

If the compressor to your car air conditioning system has gone out, a professional car AC repair service center will typically recommend replacing the condenser too. If the condenser is leaking, it should be replaced, but the compressor may not need replacing at that time. 

car being checked for air conditioning  refrigerant issues

In Closing 

Because of the strict guidelines of California, having a professional car AC repair center do any work needed for your car’s air conditioner is recommended.  State emission testing can be difficult to pass and taking unnecessary chances with DIY car AC repair may not be worthwhile.

What does a check engine light mean?

close-up of a check engine light on a car dashboard

Diagnosing a Check Engine Light

Bright, colorful lights can be pretty, with a few exceptions, like a police car behind you, emergency vehicles in front of your home, and the check engine light on your car’s dashboard. These are typically not the bright, colorful lights you want to see. And when it comes to your car’s dashboard, this means your car needs a check engine light diagnostic service. 

Is a check engine light always bad?

Not necessarily – the check engine light is a malfunction indicator lamp for the automotive industry. It is a signal from the engine’s computer telling you something is wrong. Sometimes a check engine light diagnostic will find the light came on simply because the gas cap was faulty. You can replace your gas cap as an easy way to see if the check engine light turns off. 

But often, it does mean something is seriously wrong – like the engine misfiring. If replacing the gas cap doesn’t turn the light off, you’ll be left asking yourself, “Why is my check engine light on?”. Well, you’ll need to take your car to your mechanic or the dealership where they can perform a check engine light diagnostic test to answer that question.

What is the most common reason for a check engine light?

After the possibility of a faulty gas cap, here are five other common reasons a professional check engine light diagnostic testing may find your light is on: 

  • Dirty or Low Oil 

Oil is needed to lubricate the engine components and reduce friction and wear & tear of those components. This allows them to run smoothly and protects them from damage. That oil also minimizes the heat that generates in an engine while driving. 

Low oil pressure or dirty oil will cause the check engine light to illuminate because the oil isn’t getting where it needs to be. Have your oil changed immediately and see if that fixes the problem. If not, a check engine light diagnostic may find another one of these issues.

  • Oxygen Sensor Failure

The oxygen sensor is in the exhaust system and measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gasses coming from the engine. This data goes to the onboard computer and determines if the air-to-fuel ratio is correct. If not, the oxygen sensor alerts the computer, and the check engine light comes on. 

An oxygen sensor can fail when the contaminants like phosphorus and silicates get in the exhaust. This can happen when poor-quality fuel is used. If your car’s gas mileage is getting worse, the check engine light will come as well.  A professional check engine light diagnostic test will tell a mechanic precisely the problem and it can usually be remedied. 

  • Catalytic Converter Failure

The catalytic converter cleans the exhaust emissions by converting the harmful compounds into safe gasses. When the converter becomes clogged by coolant and engine oil, it will send a signal to the computer and the check engine light illuminates. 

The CEL will also come on when the catalytic converter overheats because of unburned gas or a faulty oxygen sensor. If you’re having trouble starting your car or accelerating, it could be that the catalytic converter is having issues. 

  • Spark Plugs

Spark plugs create an electrical spark that ignites the air and fuel mixture in the engine, resulting in the combustion that is needed for a car to start. When carbon, fuel, or oil deposits form on the spark plugs, the spark plugs become corroded. This causes them to misfire, which can lead to difficulties starting your car. 

When your engine is hesitating at take-off, misfiring, or has a rattling or vibrating noise while idling, the CEL is likely coming on too. You should schedule a check engine light diagnostic test with your mechanic at this point. Changing the spark plugs will usually fix the problem. 

  • Air Flow Sensor Failed

The mass airflow sensor is part of the electronic fuel injection system. It calculates the amount of air getting to the engine, but if it is contaminated or damaged, it can’t measure the airflow correctly. Then the engine gets a wrong mixture of oxygen, and the check engine light comes on. 

A professional check engine light diagnostic by your mechanic can determine this problem and make the appropriate adjustments or repairs needed. 

Will a check engine light come on for transmission?

Yes – if your car is having transmission problems, the check engine light may come on. However, that problem is not as obvious as other issues and a professional check engine light diagnostic is needed to determine the exact problem. 

Will a check engine light come on for low oil?

Absolutely, and this could be considered the number one problem after a check engine light diagnostic is done by mechanics. Keeping the oil checked on a regular basis and maintaining a schedule for changing the oil is a must for a car to keep running correctly. 

Can I drive with the check engine light on?

Yes, for a short time. Once the CEL is illuminated, you need to schedule an appointment with your mechanic for a professional check engine light diagnostic test. It may be something as simple as a loose or faulty gas cap, but it can also be something more serious. The longer you drive with the CEL on, the higher the chance you may break down.

Every driver should know what to do when the check engine light comes on, and that is contact your mechanic immediately for an appointment. If the car is running badly and the CEL is on, pull over to a safe place and call a tow truck. Until a check engine light diagnostic is done, you should quit driving the car. 

woman next to a broken down car making a phone call

In Closing 

Many think a computer can’t make mistakes, and many think they make them all the time. With that in mind, is there a computer in a car too? Can a check engine light be false? Yes, there could be some slight glitch that causes your CEL to illuminate. However, you won’t know that for sure until a check engine light diagnostic is done.

A professional mechanic will determine from that diagnostic testing what the problem may be and if there isn’t anything wrong, they know how to reset your check engine light so that it isn’t on all the time. If it comes back on, you should return to the mechanic for another diagnostic check.

Why are relays used in automotive electrical systems?

checking a car's engine with an electrical monitor

Get Your Motor Running

You’ve got oil in the engine, gas in the tank, air in the tires, and your car is ready to go! Until there is an issue with your car’s electrical system. Car electrical system repairs can, unfortunately, be challenging to pinpoint and resolve. When you realize how many electrical components in a car, you probably wonder – how in the world does all that work together? 

In general, it takes a person that has been trained and who has the proper experience to know how an electrical system works in a car. That person may not be your usual mechanic because just as doctors have specialties, so do mechanics and technicians. So when you need car electrical system repairs, your usual mechanic may hand the job over to one of their counterparts. 

What is the importance of the automotive electrical system?

The first important thing to know about a car electrical system is that it provides the electrical current your car needs to start. And once your car starts, it powers other important components within your car. From the ignition that starts your car and the fuel system that keeps your car going, without the electrical system powering them, nothing would happen.

And it goes beyond starting and powering your car. The battery depends on the electrical system and the electrical system depends on the battery. Often, when a battery goes bad or is installed wrong, it can create a need for car electrical system repair services. In addition, the automotive electrical lighting system, including the turn signals and emergency flashers and even any alarms you have installed, all depend on the electrical system to be in working order.

What are the major components of the electrical system in a car?

There are many different components and parts to an electrical system of a car, but the three main ones are: 

  • The  battery
  • The alternator
  • The starter 

All three of these component must be synchronized to  work together in order for your car to start and to keep running. If one of the other goes out, the other two can’t do their job. Additionally, each of them can cause other problems that require professional car electrical system repair service. 

How do I check the electrical system in my car?

Dealing with a car that won’t start is frustrating, and if it isn’t the battery, the situation can be really frustrating. This is not only possible but common in newer cars. The electrical system in cars today is much more complicated and extensive than in cars made 20 years ago. 

Technological advancements have been great in many ways, but they have also created a car electrical system repair nightmare too. Diagnosing car  electrical issues is a challenge, but a few things you should be aware of are: 

  • Engine Not Starting Correctly

Electrical power is needed for your car to start; this comes from the battery. If your car isn’t starting, it may be the battery or it could a host of other things.  If there is clicking while you’re trying to start it, it may be the alternator or starter. 

  • Problem with the Battery 

A battery that is dead or discharged is definitely needing car electrical system repair, which is simply replacing the battery. Or it could be corroded battery cables, incorrect battery connection, etc. 

  • Malfunctioning Lights

The lights on your car are critical for safety. The brake lights, headlights, turn signals and more.  They all play a part in keeping you and others around you safe while on the road. 

  • Blown Fuses

The fuse prevents your car’s electrical system from short-circuiting and going over voltage. If the fuses keep blowing for indiscernible reasons, you need to schedule car electrical system repair service as soon as possible. 

  • Burning Plastic Odor

If your car is exhibiting any of the electrical symptoms we’ve mentioned and you’re smelling burning plastic, don’t wait to schedule a car electrical system repair. Take the car immediately to a mechanic. There could be a problem within the automotive relay that needs to be replaced.

What is an automotive relay?

Your car will have several automotive relays. Every vehicle, regardless the make or model, has them; they are what enables a small current flow circuit to have control and operate the higher current circuit. 

How do you wire an automotive relay?

There should be an automotive relay for every circuit that is added to a modern car. Cars today come from the factory with light gauged wiring that is not able to handle additional electrical loads like sound systems. A relay will provide power to a new circuit without drawing much from the current of the original wiring. 

Step 1: Connect relay terminal 87 to the car body or the battery negative terminal with 18-gauge primary wire and solder-less female spade connector and a solder-less ring terminal.

Step 2: Connect relay terminal 85 to a car’s circuit breaker and connect the circuit breaker to another terminal, and then to the battery’s positive terminal with a primary wire that can handle the device you are adding to the current load.

Step 3: Connect relay terminal 86 to the new device you’re adding that needs power with the same gauge wire you used for terminal 85.

close-up of a car battery

In Closing

Once you have wired your automotive relay, you’ll want to test it to make sure it doesn’t blow out any fuses and need professional car electrical system repair. So, how do you test an automotive relay?

Testing an automotive relay is done with a multimeter by removing the relay from the fuse box and set the multimeter to DC voltage. Then switch the cab activated and check for the 85 position to have 12 volts where the relay plugs into the fuse box. By doing all this, you can have your car back on the road in no time – and if you still need assistance, we can always be there for you. 

Is it worth buying a hybrid car?

charging a hybrid

Getting a hybrid

With the concerns of pollution and using up our natural resources, the hybrid car has come to exist folks. What exactly is a hybrid car and how does a hybrid car work? A hybrid car is powered by both an electric motor and a gasoline engine.  The electric motor will power the car sometimes and other times it is the gas engine that powers the car. Then, there are times they are working together.

As you can imagine, you can’t take your hybrid car to just any mechanic. There is training to be certified to do hybrid car repairs, a little knowledge of both electric motors and gasoline engines is necessary. So, are hybrid cars more expensive to repair then?  Is the cost of hybrid car repairs enough to offset what you’re saving at the gas pump? 

Well, let’s answer that by discussing the battery pack replacement of a hybrid car. If you’ve bought a battery recently for a combustionable engine powered car, you probably paid around $100 or more. And it was likely an unexpected expense, typical of car batteries to go out unexpectedly. The electric motor of a hybrid operates on battery packs – yes – more than one. They last around 8,000 miles and can cost you up to $8,000 to replace them. 

With other hybrid car repairs, let’s consider the team that is meant to work together powering and moving a hybrid car: 

  • The combustion engine
  • The electric drive motor
  • The transmission

All three of these components need to work together to provide a hybrid car power. When one of them fails, the other two quit. It is critical to have a trained and certified technician run the diagnostics to correctly make hybrid car repairs. As you can probably guess, that training and certification costs, and they are going to need to recoup that expense. 

So, we’ve had talked about some downsides to hybrid car repairs and ownership.  But like anything, there are both hybrid car pros and cons, so we offer you these offsetting pros of a hybrid car:

  • Minor maintenance can be a DIY job because it has the combustion engine. Those minor maintenance things are basic like fluid checks, air filter and fuel filter replacement, and changing the spark plugs.
  • A money saver when it comes to gasoline purchase with many of the hybrid cars that have an auto-shutoff for the combustionable engine and runs on the electric power. When it shuts the engine off and goes all electric at signal lights, it eases the strain on the engine. 
  • Brake system last longer with the regenerative braking system that most hybrid cars have. This new brake system reduces the wear and tear on the brake system and recharges those expensive battery packs. .

What is the maintenance cost of a hybrid car?

A hybrid car’s  basic maintenance on the internal combustion engine is close to the same on a regular car like oil changes. However, the big upside to hybrid car maintenance: It will go 80,000 miles before it needs a real service.  That is up to 5 years unless unexpected hybrid car repairs are needed. 

Then the cooling system is another factor to consider in hybrid car maintenance due to the technical aspect. First of all, you’ll pay for the technician’s training because not just any mechanic can do hybrid car repairs or maintenance. Thankfully though, the cooling system is good for 100,000 miles before a replacement is needed. 

What happens when a hybrid car runs out of battery?

Well, if it is the larger of the 2 battery packs, you’re walking. The smaller battery operates the car’s electronics and won’t affect you’re driving the car. However, the larger battery pack in a hybrid car is a must have for the car to operate, with the exception of 2 models: The Ford Fusion and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

What is the difference between a hybrid and an electric car?

They both use electricity, right?  The basic difference is an electric car runs only on electricity it gets from a battery that has stored energy. A hybrid car runs on both electricity from a battery pack and a combustion engine using conventional fuel.

What is the cheapest hybrid car available?

Checking 2021 pricing for traditional hybrids, your 4 cheapest are as follows: 

  • Ford Maverick Starting Price: Start Price $19,995
  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Starting Price: $23,400
  • Hyundai Elantra Hybrid  Starting Price: $23,550
  • Toyota Corolla Hybrid Starting Price: $23,650

Is it better to buy a hybrid or electric car?

If your main goal is for gas saving and fuel efficiency, both hybrid and electric cars are going to save you money.  Additionally and maybe even more important, both will get you federal income tax rebate and depending on where you live, state tax credit too. What about carpool credit? If your state offers tax credit for carpooling, both will get you the same tax credit. 

hybrid engine block

Is now a good time to buy a hybrid car?

Well, it isn’t a bad time!  Experts are telling us that over 20 fully electric  cars will be going on sale between now and the end of the year.  So, maybe start shopping if you haven’t already, but you should also keep in mind the shortage of computer chips in 2021 may factor into what is available. Need hybrid car service in Mission Viejo, CA? Call 949-583-0811 today.

How do you know if your suspension is damaged?

suspension under car

What happens if your car suspension is bad?

While the motor and the transmission make your car move, and the wheels and tires let it roll, it is the suspension that keeps it on the road. It is important to keep car suspension maintenance done and have any suspension repair needed completed as soon as possible. Bad suspension can cause you to lose control of your car and wreck.

Every vehicle of any make or model has a suspension. The parts involved in a suspension are too numerous to list here, but the ride you get in a vehicle is affected by the suspension. It keeps the car up off the tires and ground, suspension helps a car make turns, helps it to stop.

Like other parts on car, the suspension wears out, thus needing suspension repair is always possible. Once the suspension begins wearing out, it won’t perform like it has been. Examples of what you’ll notice when suspension repairs are needed are:

  • Flat tires: Yes, the tires on your car are part of the suspension system. If suspension repairs are ignored, it can destroy the tires and wheels, leaving you with a flat tire, or even multiple flat tires.
  • Broken wheels: You’ll notice the wheels on your car are broke because your car won’t move without all four wheels in good condition. However, you may have a cracked wheel that you won’t notice until it finishes breaking as you drive down the road. Or you’re lucky, the oil change technician will tell you there is a cracked wheel and suspension repair is needed.
  • Broken shocks and struts: Your car has either shocks or struts are critical in providing you a comfortable ride. When they are worn out, your car will dive when you stop, squat when you accelerate, and controlling your vehicle will become a challenge.
  • Broken springs: Broken spring under your car will make the ride uncomfortable and affect your ability to control the car around corners and when stopping.
  • Broken steering linkage: This can be a ball joint, or a tie rod end, and either one will make steering your car a risk.
  • Broken sway bar: The sway bar keeps your car from swaying, but it typically doesn’t require immediate suspension repair when it breaks or gets weak.
  • Power steering: The powers steering in your car is either electric or hydraulic. This can wear out and fail to function, making it difficult to steer your car and turn corners. This is one suspension repair you don’t want to put off any longer than you have to.

What causes bad suspension?

A lot of car with suspension issues are caused by driver abuse and neglect. If you are a person that hits potholes without trying to go around them or slowing down as you go through them, that will eventually cause the need for suspension repair. Slow down for potholes and speed bumps are crucial in keeping your car suspension in good condition. We can’t control road conditions, but we can control how we drive over the roads.

How long does a car suspension last?

Car suspension basics, if you drive around or slow down for potholes and speed bumps, your car suspension should last no less than60,000 miles, some can last up to 100,000 miles. Driving habits and maintenance are key in making your car suspension last as long as possible.

Can you drive a car with bad suspension?

Can you walk with a broken leg? Yes, you can, but it is not recommended!  The same is true in driving a car that needs suspension repairs. The car will be  unbalanced and unstable, making it difficult, even impossible in the right situation, to control and steer your car.

In addition to the car’s suspension system providing safe driving conditions, the comfort of the ride is affected by poor suspension too. Damage and worn suspension, repairs or replacement should be done promptly.

suspension repair

Why is my car suspension squeaking?

A car’s front end will squeak usually because it need lubricating. This can often happen after driving in the rain, especially if you’ve driven through some deep puddles. A front end will also start squeaking when the parts are wearing out. 

Have your car suspension checked out by an experienced mechanic.  They will inspect the suspension and note if any suspension repairs are needed. If not, they will grease the fittings where needed. 

Never ignore your car’s suspension. Repairs are important to keep your car safe and sound while driving. There are mechanics that will do a quick inspection for free, but even a small charge is worth knowing that you are driving a car that is safe and roadworthy. If your mechanic finds an issue with your car’s suspension, have it repaired then or as soon as possible. Call 949-583-0811 today for your car suspension repair in Mission Viejo, CA.