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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.

How often do you need to rotate your tires?

tires being checked

Are tire rotations important?

The tires on your vehicle take a lot of abuse when you think about. They are the rubber on the road, and as you know, the roadways today desire a lot! Your car tires keep your car rolling, providing you a better ride and make it easier to drive. Other than getting new tires every so often as needed, do you have your car tires rotated? 

A tire rotation is the process of switching the tires from one wheel to another, typically moving in a crisscross pattern, the back tires to the front and vice versa.  The reason it is so necessary for you schedule  a tire rotation to do on a regular routine is for several reasons. 

Tire Tread Life Extended — Regular tire rotation will keep your car tires from wearing unevenly. Tires that are worn unevenly will reduce the handling of your car, making your car unstable and dangerous for driving. Tire rotation and alignment should be done simultaneously as well as having the tires balanced. A tire rotation without balance can result in the same issues of making your car unstable and dangerous on the road.  

  • Performance Maximized — Your car tires contribute to the performance of your vehicle. When tire rotation isn’t done, the ride won’t be as comfortable, and your tires will wear out faster. 
  • Gas Mileage Increased — When your car tires are worn out, your gas mileage decreases because the engine has to work harder to move the car.  
  • Money Saved — In addition to saving money on gas, you won’t be replacing tires sooner than necessary with routine rotation of your car tires, because anyone that has purchased new tires know that it is like a small investment.

Do you really have to rotate your tires?

 Car maintenance is not always convenient, but that doesn’t make it any less important, including rotation of the car tires. A regular routine of having car tires rotated will keep the car driving and performing to its optimal possibility. To make getting this car maintenance done without making special  appointments with your mechanic, coincide the tire rotation with oil change. 

Which way do you rotate your tires?

Front and rear car tires wear differently because the front tires have more weight than the rear tires. Additionally, the front tires are the tires that turn corners and typically, left front car tires wear faster. 

By doing regular rotation of car tires, especially if you have driven thousands of miles, you are equalizing the wear pattern of the car tires. An equal wearing of car tires will make them last longer and help you save gas money too. The standard process of rotating car tires typically follow this process: 

Directional Tires – Steel Belted Car Tires
  • Has a one-way tread pattern that optimizes the direction the car tires should be rotated and should be rotated from left to right.  
  • Each of the sidewalls of the car tires will have either arrows or triangles that indicate which way to mount the car tires. 
  • To rotate directional car tires, swap the front right tire  and back right tire, repeating this with the left car tires. 
Non-Directional Tires – Nylon Ply Car Tires
  • Non-directional car  tires tread pattern is designed in a way they can be mounted on any wheel. 
  • Rotating non-directional car tires is done in a crisscross pattern.
  • For rear-wheel drive cars, the front car tires should be moved crisscrossing the front car tires with the rear car tires, left to right and back to front. 

By taking your car to your mechanic or tire store, they will usually offer free tire rotation service and you can be certain they will follow the proper rotation of your car tires. 

tires in line

What happens if you don’t rotate your tires?

Without regular rotation of car tires, the tire tread will wear unevenly. This creates a rough ride and a potentially unstable surface.  As the tire tread wears, the safety of you and your passengers is in jeopardy because the possibility of heat buildup and hydroplaning as well as loss of traction in ice, rain, and snow. Worn tires are susceptible to blowouts and punctures, which can happen while driving.

While we have explained what a rotation of car tires is and why it should be done on routine basis, you may wonder, can you rotate tires too often? The answer to that concern is not where the tires are concerned, rotation of car tires cannot be done too much. The concern should be focused on not getting your car tires rotated enough and often enough. 

Your car is an investment, and the car tires are an investment when you have to replace them. Taking the time to get the oil change and the tires rotated can do a lot to extend the life of your car and car tires. Call 949-583-0811 today for your tire rotation needs in Mission Viejo, CA.

What is an Oxygen Sensor?

oxygen sensor

So, what is the function of oxygen sensor?

Your vehicle requires gasoline to operate and run along with oxygen. The oxygen creates a spark that ignites the engine and burns the gasoline. That creates the fuel needed for your car to run. That oxygen has to be rationed though, and that is done with an oxygen sensor

The oxygen sensor is usually found mounted in the exhaust system so that it can measure the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases. The sensor compares the amount of oxygen to the proportion of oxygen in the air, then updates the computer in your vehicle with that information. 

The vehicle’s computer is called an ECU (Engine Control Module) and when the oxygen sensor is functioning  correctly. This helps a vehicle in passing any state mandated emission testing as well as the fuel efficiency.

How long do oxygen sensors last?

The oxygen sensor is exposed to extreme high temperatures any time the vehicle’s engine is running, even if you’re sitting at a light with the engine idling. That heat can wear the oxygen sensor down each time the engine is running. 

What happens when an oxygen sensor goes bad?

If the oxygen sensor fails, there are several issues and problem you can experience, starting with a rough running engine. Another main issue you will have is when you take your vehicle in for state inspection, it will not pass the emission testing with a bad oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor is important to a vehicle’s operation, and when you notice the following situations, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic to be checked:

  • The Check Engine light comes on and stays on
  • The engine has a rough idle
  • The engine sputters when you let off the gas
  • The gas mileage gets worse
  • The engine loses power and becomes sluggish

What causes an oxygen sensor to fail?

An oxygen sensor, also referred to a O2 sensor, can fail because of  various contaminants entering the exhaust. These contaminants can include silicates from coolant leaking from the internal engine and phosphorus from extreme oil consumption. In other words, your vehicle needs mechanical attention as soon as possible. If your vehicle’s oxygen sensor has failed because of these reasons, there are internal issues with the engine. 

How long can you drive with a bad oxygen sensor?

The oxygen sensor in your vehicle helps the exhaust system reduce the harmful fumes it emits when the engine is running. Your vehicle can be driven for any amount of time with a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, but it won’t be able to monitor the amount of air and fuel mixture it uses and make the automatic adjustments. So, in quick summary, yes, you can drive a vehicle with a bad oxygen sensor, but you’ll be spending more money on gasoline and you’ll risk other damage possibly happening.

What happens if you don’t replace oxygen sensor?

The first thing that happens with a failed oxygen senor , it isn’t doing its job of monitoring the amount of air and fuel mixing, resulting in a loss of fuel economy and  higher emissions. The next thing that can result from not replacing a failed oxygen sensor is your vehicle won’t pass state emission testing. The last, but just as important, the catalytic converter will  overheat, and other components of the engine can be damaged. .

Can oxygen sensor be cleaned?

This can depend on who you ask. There are oxygen sensor cleaners on the market claiming to be safe for the oxygen sensor and engine. Other people have used an aerosol cleaner and wire brush, but most mechanics recommend having the oxygen sensor change for the safest results. 

Oxygen sensor

How long does it take a new O2 sensor to work?

When an oxygen sensor has been replaced, it needs to be reset in order to properly monitor the air and fuel information. If you have a mechanic install your oxygen sensor, they will reset and test it.  If you do your own replacement, the following steps will reset the sensor: 

  • Step One: Open the fuse panel and locate the ECU fuse and pull it out.
  • Step Two: Turn the ignition “On” without cranking the engine.
  • Step Three: Wait 5 minutes then reinsert the ECU fuse. The “Check Engine” light should blink and turn off, indicating the ECU is reset and your vehicle is ready to go again. 

Now you know more about your vehicle’s oxygen sensor, but did you know there is more than just one type?  What are the different types of oxygen sensor? Well, there are 4 that we’ll list here, but not all of them are related to vehicles! 

  • Electrochemical Oxygen Sensor: used to measure oxygen levels in ambient air. 
  • Zirconia Oxygen Sensor: senses the variance between the concentration of exhaust gas and  O2 in normal air.
  • Optical Oxygen Sensor: using the principle of fluorescence quenching, this sensor uses a light detector and a luminescent material that reacts to light.
  • Infrared Oxygen Sensor: used in the medical industry to measure the body’s oxygen saturation.

Need an oxygen sensor service in Mission Viejo, CA? Japanese Car Specialties is always available to assist you. Call 949-583-0811 today.

What is Factory Recommended Maintenance?

car service, repair, maintenance and people concept - auto mechanic man with lamp working at workshop

Learn More About Factory Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining your car there are routine practices that are typically done. Yet with factory maintenance, there will be recommendations of what to do for your specific make and model of your car so that your car can perform at its best. They are intended so that your car can last longer than when the warranty on it ends. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual for more details on factory maintenance. You may be able to schedule your services with your dealership or an auto shop. Before that, here is some general background information about factory maintenance that may prove of use to you.

What is factory maintenance?

Factory maintenance is designed to keep the car running optimally by checking and maintaining the vehicles’ important systems. Generally, the first maintenance schedule will occur around 7,500.

What is the maintenance schedule?

A maintenance schedule will involve any service or task that has a certain marker or deadline to be done with a technician. It can be a one-time task or one that’s done at regular intervals. Scheduled maintenance is done to reduce reactive maintenance, maintenance backlog, or equipment failure. You can avoid common problems from occurring with a regularly maintained schedule.

What is factory scheduled maintenance?

Scheduled factory maintenance will have a list of maintenance items that the vehicle manufacturer recommends. The benchmarks will typically fall under the 30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 marks. The interval between will depend on the make and model of the care so check the owner’s manual for more information. The manufacturer will set these guidelines in a detailed way that covers basic maintenance and more detailed inspections that keeps an eye on wear and tear from operations. By bringing in your car to routine maintenance small problems are caught before they grow into bigger ones.

How important is scheduled maintenance?

It’s important to schedule factory maintenance in order to ensure the proper working order and preventing long term damages. What’s more, in certain cases you’ll be required to do the minimum recommended maintenance in order to keep the car’s warranty in good standing. It will be essential to keep the records in order to preserve the resale value of the vehicle. If you’re wanting to resale or trade your vehicle completing scheduled maintenance will give you the ability to sell it for more. Secondly, having scheduled maintenance is a good diagnostic tool, and if a warranty claim needs to be made your maintenance history will need to meet their requirements or risk being denied.

How do you keep car maintenance records?

You can your car’s maintenance by storing it in a folder or envelope with other important documents and receipts. Label and place the items in a safe place or in your glove compartment. 

How long should you keep vehicle maintenance records?

It may be good to keep vehicle maintenance records for at least a year. It might be a good idea to keep these records as essentially they will give you a good reminder as to your maintenance schedule.

Auto mechanic checking car battery voltage

What are the most important car maintenance?

  • Check & Replace Your Wiper Blades
  • Change Your Oil Regularly
  • Rotate Your Tires & Check Air Pressure
  • Check Your Battery’s Charge 
  • Replace Worn-Down Brake Pads
  • Replace Your Air Filter
  • Check Hoses & Belts 
  • Replace Old Spark Plugs

What needs to be serviced in a car?

Common duties that need to be done with a car as far as being services is ensuring the engine is tuned to run in peak conditions, checking the cooling system (radiators, pumps, and hoses,) checking lights, exhaust, tires, and operations of the brakes and steering wheel. An engine oil change and filter replacement will be necessary as will checking the coolant levels and hydraulic fluid. Finally,  having suspension checked is recommended.

Should I go to the dealer for maintenance?

There are certain advantages that can come with going to your detail such as them being able to perform certain repairs for free if your car is still under warranty. Small shops can also offer warranties on service parts but they might only be able to cover some parts or not be able to cover them at the same length of time.

What voids your car warranty?

Your car warranty can be voided with certain activities such as off-road driving or racing/reckless driving.

Consult a Professional About Factory Maintenance For Your Vehicle

If you’re needing factory maintenance have services performed by a skilled worker. It’s important to have services rendered on your vehicle by a professional to ensure that all the correct measures are being taken for smooth operations. Factory maintenance is not a do-it-yourself venture and will require trained hands to complete for an optimal outcome. Speak to a professional today about the services that should be scheduled for your vehicle soon for a safe drive.

Get more information regarding factory maintenance in Mission Viejo, CA by calling 949-583-0811 with the experts at Japanese Car Specialties today!

What Is Covered in a Safety Inspection?

A Mechanic Runs a Diagnostic on a Car.

What is covered in a safety inspection?

In California, you’re required to have your car inspected annually to renew its registration. These safety inspections involve emission systems checks, as well as checks for leaks, fluid levels, and mechanical integrity of your brakes, electrical system, fuel system, glass and mirrors, horn, lights, wipers, tires, steering, and suspension. If your vehicle was made in 1976 or after, you also must pass a biennial smog inspection. If your car is six years old or less, you can forego a smog inspection but still have to pay a smog abatement over the first six years of registration. Some vehicles such as electric cars and natural gas-powered vehicles are exempt from smog inspections. When it comes to safety inspections in Mission Viejo, CA, you’ll get thorough service from Japanese Car Specialties. Book a service time by calling 949-583-0811.

Why would a car fail safety inspection?

In California, you can fail safety inspections for a variety of reasons:

  • Emissions issues: Problems with emissions are often indicated by your check engine light and could range from bad spark plugs to a malfunctioning catalytic converter. Emissions testing includes a gas cap check to ensure that vapors aren’t being emitted from it. Emissions are a major component of California state inspections.
  • Inadequate amount of insurance: In California, you must have at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability insurance coverage and $30,000 in accident coverage to be inspected.
  • Leaks: Any fluid leaks will prevent your vehicle from passing inspection.
  • Mechanical issues: Mechanical problems can include everything from bad windshield wipers to bad tires to malfunctioning headlights to insufficient braking capabilities.

Will cracked tires pass safety inspection?

The condition of your tires plays a key role in whether you pass your safety inspection. Tires cannot be cracked or otherwise damaged, and treads cannot be worn down for them to be considered safe. You can gauge tread depth simply by placing a penny between the tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread is at an unsafe level.

What happens if my car doesn’t pass inspection?

If your car doesn’t pass its safety inspection, you won’t be able to renew your vehicle registration until necessary repairs are made. If your registration expires before you pass the inspection, you can be ticketed for expired registration. You also won’t receive new license plates if your car isn’t properly registered. Some state assistance programs are available for up to $500 in repairs if you need help paying for emissions repairs to pass inspection. You might also qualify for a vehicle retirement program for the safe recycling of vehicles that provides some financial aid toward buying a new vehicle.

Does my car need a safety inspection?

With few exceptions, almost every vehicle in California requires a safety inspection for vehicle registration. Car safety inspection requirements stipulate that most gasoline-powered cars made in 1976 or after also require a smog inspection. If you drive a diesel-powered car made after 1997, you are exempt from the emissions test. Also exempt from emissions testing are electric cars and natural gas-powered vehicles.

Everyone in the state must register their vehicle in the state if the car is based in California or if it is used primarily on highways in the state. Inspections can be performed at any official California Department of Transportation service station, including Japanese Car Specialties. All of these stations post signs signifying they are certified inspection stations. If you have recently moved to California and your vehicle is used primarily in the state, then it will have to be registered and pass emissions testing. The California emissions test must be performed on out-of-state vehicles even if you’ve had your car tested in another state and the car has passed that state’s test. An out-state vehicle must also have a VIN inspection once it’s registered in the state. If you are not a resident of the state, you are exempt from these requirements.

Which states do not require vehicle inspections?

Almost every state requires vehicle inspections except these:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota

Other states that don’t normally require inspections except under certain specific circumstances include Michigan and Mississippi.

How long does car safety inspection take?

Vehicle inspection times will vary. Typically, the inspection will take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes to complete. If simple repairs are needed, such as installing new wiper blades, the vehicle will have to be inspected again. You also typically have 30 days to make any needed repairs if your vehicle doesn’t pass the initial inspection.

A Mechanic Goes Over Safety Inspection Checklist.

Where to get car safety inspection

If it’s time to renew your vehicle registration and you need a safety inspection in Mission Viejo, CA, you can always count on Japanese Car Specialties for a thorough inspection. We are certified by the California Department of Transportation to make inspections. You can easily set up an appointment for an inspection by calling 949-583-0811.