Irvine Auto Repair

Servicing Car Owners in Irvine, Tustin, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, and all of Orange County

Irvine Auto Repair - Servicing Car Owners in Irvine, Tustin, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, and all of Orange County

When Do My Shocks Need to be Replaced?

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Irvine drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your sedan, critical parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Irvine car owners to remember a diagnostic examination of their suspension system in their schedule of a critical preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the sedan. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same important job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Irvine motorists to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs essential attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Irvine area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the sedan’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around CA or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your sedan out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your appreciative service professional at Irvine Auto Repair in Irvine.

Clean Fuel Equals Clean Performance For Irvine Drivers

Hello, Irvine motorists. Let’s talk fuel filters. Fuel filters clean the dirt, dust and debris out of your fuel. Both gasoline and diesel-powered engines have them. The fuel filter is located in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the engine.

Irvine motorists don’t need to filter their fuel because it has lots of grit in it; they need to filter it because it has some grit it in. Any dirt is bad for your engine. The cleaner the fuel, the better an engine will run.

Over time, the small amounts of rust, dirt and contaminants in your fuel settle out inside the fuel tank. After about five years, this can amount to a quite a bit of sediment. This means that as your sedan ages, your fuel filter has to work harder to screen your fuel: more sediment in your tank means more potential for grit in your fuel.

The harder your fuel filter works, the more often it needs to be replaced. Check with your sedan owner’s manual or Irvine Auto Repair to find out how often it should be serviced and how long you can expect it to last. You should change it before it becomes clogged. Your Irvine Auto Repair service advisor can help you with recommended replacement schedules.

If your fuel filter becomes clogged, your engine will sputter when you drive at CA highway speeds or when you accelerate rapidly. A clogged filter allows enough fuel to run the car at low speeds around town in Irvine, but when you need a higher flow of fuel for faster speeds, or if you need a sudden burst of fuel, you just won’t be able to get it through the filter.

A clogged filter is actually dangerous. If you need to accelerate suddenly out of the path of danger, you just won’t have the power to do it.

Fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter becomes clogged, the valve allows some fuel to bypass the filter so the engine can keep running – just not enough to be running well.

That means, though, that dirty, unfiltered fuel is entering your engine. Instead of clogging up your filter, that dirt is now getting into your fuel injectors, where it can cause serious damage. Fuel injectors are expensive; fuel filters are cheap. It doesn’t seem like a difficult choice for Irvine drivers.

Fuel filters are the epitome of preventive maintenance. They are cheap and easy to change, but neglecting them can lead to pricey repair bills. Some fuel filters are inside the fuel tank and cannot be routinely serviced – your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair tech will be able to tell you if this applies to your vehicle.

Good car care for Irvine motorists means following recommended schedules for preventive maintenance, including changing your fuel filters. Take the auto advice offered at Irvine Auto Repair and in every owner’s manual and have your vehicle regularly inspected. It may save you money by preventing costly repairs, but it will also repay you in improved MPG, safety and peace of mind.

Protecting Your sedan From Theft In Irvine, CA

Every car in Irvine, CA is at risk for theft. So it’s up to us Irvine motorists to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles:

  1. Common sense
  2. Visible and audible devices
  3. Immobilizing devices
  4. Tracking devices

Let’s review each of these. First, common sense: you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen in CA where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it’s against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.

And don’t leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. Irvine drivers would be wise to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.

Irvine auto owners should know that it’s critical to roll up their windows completely and avoid leaving their car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.

Keep valuables out of sight: purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive “smash-and-grab” targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.

There are lots of critical visible and audible devices available for Irvine auto owners. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what’s going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.

Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don’t approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.

And here’s a great one – immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car’s electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can’t drive your car away.

Finally, Irvine motorists can also get a tracking device that allows Irvine police to track their car down and recover it quickly.

Remember, where you live, work and drive around Irvine, CA has a great impact on your decisions. If you’re in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your Irvine, CA auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.

Of course, the common sense suggestions from Irvine Auto Repair don’t cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves. Take a look at the attached video auto tip from AutoNetTV.

Come see us at Irvine Auto Repair in Irvine for practical advice on keeping your sedan safe.

Wipe Out! New Wiper Blades For Irvine Drivers

When Irvine drivers talk about vehicle safety, they think of tires and brakes. But do we think about our windshields? Isn’t the ability to see a prime safety factor when it comes to driving around CA? Yet we often don’t even notice our windshields until we can’t see through them, or until our wiper blades fail.

It’s estimated that around 46 million people are driving with wipers that won’t keep their windshields clear during a storm — that’s 46 million people with impaired vision during a storm. For safety’s sake, Irvine auto owners need to change the way they think about wiper blades. Most of us, 78% in fact, only change our wiper blades after they fail. In other words, we don’t get new ones until the old ones become a harmful safety hazard. Instead, we Irvine motorists need to make wiper blades an essential part of our preventive maintenance routine.

Wiper blades should be changed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In CA areas that experience harsh winter weather, special blades are available that prevent ice and snow from collecting on the wiper. Ask your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair service professional about wiper blades that repel ice and snow.

No matter what blades you use on your vehicle in the winter, don’t expect them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield after your vehicle has been parked for a while. Using your wipers will shred your blades and may even damage your wiper motor. And don’t drive on Irvine roads with a frosted windshield. That’s a serious safety hazard. It can cause accidents, and you could be held liable.

Wiper blades are subjected to harsh conditions in Irvine. They’re out in the Irvine sun and in the cold. Over time, they become hard and brittle and lose their flexibility. Then they start to tear. Without flexibility, wipers just can’t clear a windshield of water or snow. And torn wipers can actually scratch your windshield. Then the entire windshield has to be replaced — along with the wiper blades. It’s a prime example of how preventive maintenance could have saved you an expensive repair bill.

Irvine motorists can purchase new wiper blades at an auto service center or at any Irvine auto parts store. They cost about the same. But the auto service center will throw in the installation.

Once you have good wipers installed, don’t forget to top off your windshield washer fluid. If you take your vehicle in for a full-service oil change at Irvine Auto Repair in Irvine, your washer fluid will get topped off then. But it’s good auto advice to purchase a jug of washer fluid to keep at home — just in case. And pack it in the car when you go on long trips.

While we’re on the subject, Irvine Auto Repair advises Irvine drivers to always fill their washer fluid reservoir with window washer fluid. Don’t ever use water. Water can freeze in the reservoir, which can damage it. It can also freeze onto your windshield. Besides, plain water just can’t get a windshield clean. Think about it. Do you use plain water to clean your bathroom mirrors? And a bathroom mirror doesn’t get exposed to anything near the gunk that can end up on your windshield. Windshield washer fluid was designed to do one thing — to clean windshields. Let it do its essential job.

A clean windshield is not just good car care for Irvine motorists — it’s a critical safety feature. Let’s keep it that way.

Arrive Alive In Irvine

We’ve all seen CA car owners do crazy things while driving to or from Irvine. A guy shaving in the rear-view mirror, a woman applying makeup, people talking on their phones, texting or drinking from an enormous coffee mug. It’s a wonder we even dare drive on CA roads.

The truth is that all of us Irvine auto owners are distracted when we drive. Unfortunately, traffic, road construction and other dangerous external factors are beyond our control. The distractions inside our car, however, are things we can often control.

Here’s some things that’ll give you more control in your car, and help keep your attention on the roads around Irvine, CA.

  • Irvine drivers who are 16 to 20 years old tend to be more distracted by the radio, CD or MP3 player.
  • Irvine motorists who are 20 to 29 are more distracted by passengers in the car, including small children.
  • Those over age 65 tend to be more distracted by objects or events that are outside of the vehicle.

Other factors like fatigue, stress and lack of sleep make it harder to pay attention to driving – no matter what age we are. It is always better to pull over and take a quick nap than risk falling asleep at the wheel. Irvine drivers are also distracted by thinking about relationships, family issues, money and bills. So what can Irvine drivers do to manage these detrimental distractions? Well, the first thing is to eliminate as many as we can.

When you get in your car, make sure you’re belted in; that the seats, steering wheel and mirrors are adjusted; and your radio or CD player is ready.

Secure any loose objects in the car that can fall on the floor and interfere with your driving.

If you have a drink, make sure it’s spill-proof and put in a cup holder. Irvine car owners’ pets should also be contained.

CA auto owners with kids in the car should make sure they’re clipped in their seat belts or safety seats. You may want to give them some distractions to help keep them quiet and sitting in their seats. Don’t get involved in their arguments while you’re driving. Pull over if you need to find a toy or break up a fight.

If you eat while driving, choose simple finger foods that aren’t messy.

Learning your car’s controls before you drive is another essential way to improve your safety. Learn how to work the radio by touch. Controls located on the steering wheel can help Irvine car owners keep their eyes on the road.  The same goes for heating and air conditioning controls.

If you have to use a cell phone, a hands-free system is best. But remember, the biggest cell phone distraction isn’t the phone itself – it’s the conversation. Keep conversations brief and light, or pull over if you can. Your essential reaction time is much slower when talking and driving, so allow more space between you and the car ahead of you. Know your local Irvine laws – it may be illegal to be on the phone. Never text while driving! This has already caused many deaths and injuries in CA over the last few years.

And if you really think you have to shave, change your clothes or put on make-up while driving in Irvine – you’re wrong. Just start getting ready earlier so you have enough time to finish those things before you drive around Irvine.

Irvine Auto Repair
8797 Irvine Center Drive Suite #F
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 450-0800

It’s critical to remember that driving is probably the most dangerous thing you’ll do all day – so don’t make it any worse. Use these tips to keep you and your loved ones safer behind the wheel in Irvine.

Keeping Your ‘Old Faithful’ Auto Running

At Irvine Auto Repair we’ve had a lot of Irvine, El Toro, and Lake Forest clients asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years in CA. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices, a lot of Irvine folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this vital question.

So let’s say you’re one of the average car owners in the Irvine area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?

Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care in Irvine. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if smart Irvine motorists stay on top of their recommended car maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some automobile manufacturer’s owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do Irvine car owners know what to do when they’re way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change at Irvine Auto Repair in Irvine, for example, leaves an opportunity for harmful sludge to build up. Talk to your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair tech.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff needs to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Irvine are sticklers for scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it keeps fuel economy from decreasing;
  2. it prevents costly repairs, and;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most essential thing motorists can do. A full-service oil change at Irvine Auto Repair means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair tech a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get pricey. And it gives you a touch point with an automotive professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Irvine area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your service specialist at Irvine Auto Repair. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, the team at Irvine Auto Repair strongly encourages Irvine motorists to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some Irvine auto owners start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car as you drive around Irvine. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

Irvine Auto Repair
8797 Irvine Center Drive Suite #F
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 450-0800

What’s Up With Diesels in Irvine?

Would you be surprised to learn that about half of the passenger cars in Europe have diesel engines? You might also be surprised to learn that most car makers produce a variety of diesel-fueled cars for purchase abroad.

Diesel-fueled vehicles haven’t been as popular in the North American markets like CA. But that won’t be true for long. North Americans are seeing a lot more diesel-fueled vehicles on the road. And we’re not talking about buses and trucks. These vehicles will be passenger cars, pick-ups and SUV’s.

There are two reasons for this. The first is a recent change in environmental laws that have upgraded emissions standards for diesel fuel in North America. Diesel fuel in North America used to have higher sulfur content than European fuel, meaning that it was a dirtier fuel to burn. That was okay for larger vehicles, but the lighter-weight engines in passenger vehicles just couldn’t tolerate it.

But that high sulfur content is now a thing of the past. Fuel producers are now required to sell cleaner diesel fuel in Irvine. That opens the North American market to more diesel-powered vehicles. The second reason we’re going to see more of these vehicles in Irvine is that they’re more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fuel has higher energy density than gasoline. That translates to more power per barrel of fuel. In your tank, that translates to better engine performance and about 20% more miles per gallon.

Irvine drivers may associate diesel engines with black smoke, noise and a definite “shake, rattle and roll.” That’s also a thing of the past. Modern diesel engines are smooth and quiet and produce cleaner emissions than gasoline engines. Also, forget that three-second wait behind a diesel vehicle at a stoplight. Modern diesels are just as quick to accelerate as other vehicles on Irvine roads.

Diesel engines have other advantages over gasoline engines. Diesel engines are heavier than gasoline engines because they require more heavy-duty parts, but that means the engines are more durable and can last longer than gasoline engines. Also, diesel engines may be the engines of the future since they can burn many of the new bio-fuels.

Bio-diesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils, including used cooking oil from Irvine restaurants. Just think, one day you could fuel your vehicle on stuff that was once considered waste—one step closer to a cleaner environment here in CA. And if you think hybrid cars are environmentally sound, consider what a diesel-electric hybrid could mean. They will soon be available for
Irvine drivers.

Irvine motorists who are considering buying a diesel-fueled vehicle, should know that critical preventive maintenance and inspection schedules are different for a diesel engine than a gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is harder on emissions systems than gasoline, so the filters and other devices have to be changed and checked more often. Also, the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures for diesel than for gasoline, so keeping it clean becomes a higher priority.

When you switch from a gas vehicle to a diesel, you’ll have to learn some new rules of car care. But you won’t be alone. Most
Irvine service centers are aware that diesels are coming to North America and are already prepared to provide service for diesel engines. At Irvine Auto Repair, we are well-versed in diesel technology. You can rely on our team of automotive professionals to provide quality service for diesel powered vehicles.

Automotive Detective Work In Irvine

There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Irvine. Figuring out what’s wrong with your sedan has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your sedan’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Irvine car owners because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Irvine doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Irvine drivers can do a lot to help out their appreciative Irvine Auto Repair technician in figuring out what’s wrong with their sedan. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Irvine service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Irvine service advisor.

If fluid is leaking from your sedan, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your sedan is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Irvine Auto Repair service advisor, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your sedan’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Irvine drivers.

If your sedan is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your technician often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your appreciative service professional to get your sedan to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Irvine and then get it corrected.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Irvine repair shop, but if you need to get it fixed, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

Automotive Tips from Irvine Auto Repair: Serpentine Belt System Wear

The primary job of the serpentine belt is to provide vital traction to spin the accessories. As the belt wears it loses some of its grip and the accessories may not spin at optimal speeds. For example, if your alternator doesn’t spin fast enough, the battery will not completely recharge while you’re driving and you could end up stranded with a dead battery.

In short, a worn serpentine belt will stress all of the accessories it powers leading to premature wear and possible early replacement. When as little as 5% of belt material is lost, the serpentine belt cannot provide the proper traction for the accessories. Your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair tech can check your belt for excessive wear and replace your serpentine belt system if it’s excessively worn.

Give us a call

Irvine Auto Repair
(949) 450-0800
8797 Irvine Center Drive Suite #F
Irvine, CA 92618

Professional Auto Maintenance at Irvine Auto Repair: Where Should New Tires Be Placed

When Irvine auto owners need to replace tires, they need to know how many they should get, and on which axle they should be placed. Replacing a damaged tire may leave you with three others with significant wear, which could affect your traction control, stability control, and anti-lock brake systems.

If you can’t afford to replace all four tires at once, you should at least replace two on the same axle. New tires should always be put on the rear axle for stability in slippery conditions. Your appreciative Irvine Auto Repair tire professional can help you ascertain when your worn tires should be replaced, if you can have a damaged tire corrected as well as selecting the right tires for your needs.

Give us a call

Irvine Auto Repair
(949) 450-0800
8797 Irvine Center Drive Suite #F
Irvine, CA 92618