All about EV Maintenance & Repair
Electric vehicles (EVs) totaled over 15% of the passenger vehicle market in 2022 and sales are expected to grow by 21% by 2030. Whether you already own an EV or have considered making the switch, here are the main differences and similarities you need to know when it comes to the repair and maintenance of electric vehicles:
- Electric vehicles do not require oil changes, fluid flushes, or tune-ups, as they have far fewer mechanical parts that will wear and brake over time – i.e., spark plugs, valves, starters, clutches, belts, hoses, converters, etc. Regular maintenance is not as frequent or as critical.
- EVs do not have engines or transmissions, so they will never require costly repairs or replacements that are often related to one of those major systems.
- Because there is no combustion, there is no smog. Because there is no smog, there are no catalytic converters or mufflers; therefore, you will never need to repair or replace those parts (nor will you need to complete those pesky emissions tests).
- The pure torque and heavier weight of an electric vehicle combined with the regenerative braking means the tires are going to wear MUCH quicker. Average tire life of an EV is between 15,000 and 25,000 depending on driving habits.
What’s The Same:
The regenerative braking in an EV is an electronic component. It happens when the electrical current reverses when the driver takes his/her foot off the accelerator. However, the mechanical components of the braking systems (discs, calipers, hydraulics) are almost identical to gas-powered vehicles and need repair just the same.
The undercarriage and frame of an electric vehicle is also very similar to a gas vehicle and, therefore, require wheel alignments every 6 to 12 months. Most independent repair shops can align an EV just like any other gas vehicle at a fraction of the cost of the dealership. It is recommended to call ahead and make sure the repair facility has the most up-to-date alignment equipment that can apply to an EV.
The suspension system, shocks and struts are the same (mechanical concept) in an EV as they are in a gas vehicle. Around 100,000 miles, most EVs will start to encounter issues with the suspension/struts just like any other vehicle on the road. Independent repair facilities have access to EV manufacturer parts inventories and can remedy suspension issues usually faster and cheaper than the dealership.
The filters that clean the air that goes into the cabin also need to be replaced in EVs just like in their gas counterparts. Oil change services usually include a check and replacement of the air filters but because EVs don’t get regular oil changes, air filters can often be forgotten about. It is recommended to change the cabin air filters every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.
In most EVs, the electronics inside the cabin (radio, door locks, window controls, A/C and heating) are made the same as in gas vehicles. These components have nothing to do with which propulsion system the vehicle uses. The cabin features are just as predisposed to wear, tear, and failure over time.
Being a (relatively) new concept to most of society, there are a lot of myths around electric vehicles. As the industry grows, so will our knowledge of their function, feasibility, ownership costs, environmental effects, and societal infrastructure. As it is today, whatever your personal preference might be – gas or electric, Greulich’s is here for you! Every Greulich’s location is equipped with the latest technology supporting the maintenance and repairs mentioned above for any electric vehicle, including Tesla, Lucid Air, and Rivian. Are there some proprietary technologies that only the EV dealership can fix – sure – but give us a call ahead of time and we will let you know if we can help!
Catalytic Converter Theft, How To help Prevent It From Happening To You, and What To Do If It Does – Greulich’s Automotive Repair
What Is a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is component of the exhaust system in a combustion engine vehicle (basically, any gas vehicle). The catalytic converter turns the toxic gases and pollutants in the vehicle’s exhaust into LESS-toxic pollutants. This process significantly reduces the amount harmful emissions a vehicle puts out into in the air. A faulty or missing catalytic converter will result in a failed emissions test, very poor gas mileage, and allows harmful amounts of toxins to be released into the atmosphere (we could go on and on about the repercussions of that, but we won’t go into to it here). Basically, the catalytic converter makes a vehicle PRACTICAL, LEGAL and SAFE to drive.
Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?
Catalytic converters are made of 3 types of metal – platinum, rhodium, and palladium – all of which are very expensive. Thieves will take catalytic converters to scrap yards and sell them for hundreds of dollars each depending on the size and amount of metal. Thieves can get up to $700 for a single converter. Because catalytic converters are easily accessible on the underside of a vehicle, they are relatively quick and easy to take.
Symptoms of Catalytic Converter Theft
It is very noticeable when a catalytic converter is missing. You’ll hear a loud roar when you turn the engine on as well as very loud rumbling when you hit the gas. If you notice this, go the front of your vehicle, usually between the front tires, the catalytic converter is an oval-shaped cylinder with two pipes coming out of each end (see image above). You’ll see a gap between the two pipes often with cut or saw marks where the converter should be. If you find yourself in this situation, you should drive straight to your nearest auto repair shop or mechanic. Driving with a missing catalytic converter can cause more expensive damage further up in the exhaust system if not taken care of right away. It can also cause expensive damage to the engine, as your ECU will try to compensate for the higher flow exhaust and cause the engine to not run properly.
How To Help Protect Your Vehicle from Catalytic Theft
- Always park in well-lit areas at night
- Park inside your garage if you have one.
- At home, invest in a video surveillance system or cameras for your driveway, such as Ring or Nest.
- When you’re out and about at night, park near a building, as there are usually surveillance cameras that deter thieves from targeting vehicles in-sight of the cameras.
- Calibrate your vehicle’s security alarm to detect vibration (you know…the one that goes off on the 4th of July from the fireworks). This will cause your alarm to go off if the vibration of a saw is detected.
- There are security shields you can purchase and attach to your catalytic converter making it harder to steal. These devices go from $100 to $300 on Amazon depending on the vehicle. Make sure to purchase the specific kind for your vehicle. While this may seem expensive, it costs an average of $2,000 to replace a catalytic converter.
Most Common Vehicles Targeted for Catalytic Theft
- The Toyota Prius is the #1 vehicle targeted for catalytic converter theft. Being a low-emission vehicle, the catalytic converters contain more of those precious metals that can fetch thieves more money.
- Trucks and SUVs are also common targets, as they are typically higher off the ground, which make the converter easier to access and steal.
What to Do if Your Catalytic Converter is Stolen
- Contact authorities. Unless you are in danger, hurt or there is a true emergency, try calling the NON-EMERGENCY police line for your city. You can usually find the number by Googleing “non-emergency phone number”. You’ll want to make sure to get a police report filled in case your insurance company needs it.
- Call your insurance company to see if there is anything they can do for you. Some policies cover these kinds of events and may help cover replacement and repair costs.
- Head to the mechanic. Any trusted auto repair shop will know exactly what to do for a missing catalytic converter (unfortunately, this is a common issue). If your vehicle is still under warranty, you can take it to the dealership, but most professional independent repair shops can fix your vehicle while keeping the warranty intact, and for a MUCH more affordable cost.
YES, most manufacturer warranties DO allow for you to take your vehicle to an independent repair shop, as long as it is a verified shop. The vehicle manufacturers don’t advertise this tid-bit because they want you to go to the dealership service center where repairs are much more costly. If you’re curious, check your warranty first to make sure the shop is an approved facility.
Greulich’s Automotive Repair has been a trusted repair facility in Arizona since 1977. We have 17 convenient locations in and around Metro Phoenix. If you are ever a victim of catalytic converter theft, our ASE certified Master mechanics know exactly what to do. Unfortunately, we see customers in this situation more than we’d like to (why can’t everyone play nice, right?!). We always strive to make the best of an unfortunate situation for our guests. We can provide you with a complimentary Lyft or Uber ride if needed while your vehicle is in our care. Give us a call, easily schedule an appointment online or simply walk into any Greulich’s location. We’ll be happy to serve you!
Car Care 101: Tips to Prevent Costly Repair- Greulich’s Automotive
Diagnosing and Fixing Wheel Alignment Problems – Greulich’s Automotive Repair
A recent survey conducted by United Tires suggested that 35% of drivers have ridden on misaligned wheels for more than 30 days.
Although misaligned wheels may not be that easy to spot as a driver, they can be dangerous to drive on, as they make your vehicle both harder to steer and can increase stopping distances. They can also cause long term damage to your vehicle’s suspension, resulting in an expensive fix if not sorted out quickly.
To avoid this happening to you and your car, here are some ways that you can identify wheel alignment problems so that the problem can be fixed quickly and easily.
What are misaligned wheels?
The position of your car’s wheels is controlled by its suspension system. Ideally, wheels should be suspended in a way that there is as much of the tread of the tire in contact with the road as possible. Wheel position should also be symmetrical so that each wheel has an equal amount of traction with the road.
In the case of misaligned wheels, the suspension system has been knocked, meaning that one wheel now has greater contact with the road than the one on the other side of the vehicle.
What can cause misaligned wheels?
Misaligned wheels can be caused by surprisingly minor bumps to a vehicle’s suspension.
This can include: driving over potholes, driving your wheel over the curb of a road or even driving too fast over a speed bump.
Larger accidents can also cause misaligned wheels. In these instances, wheel misalignment can fly under the radar, as your attention could be focused on fixing more obvious types of damage. However, given the importance of wheel alignment to your vehicle’s overall level of safety, it’s very important to get the wheels of a vehicle aligned before a damaged car returns to the road.
What are the effects of misaligned wheels?
The most dangerous effect of misaligned wheels is that they can cause a vehicle to drag to one side, especially at high speeds.
Since the wheels on one side of the vehicle are in greater contact with the road, they produce more traction, pulling the vehicle towards that side. For similar reasons, a vehicle’s ability to turn in the direction where traction is reduced is also diminished, sometimes to unsafe levels.
Reduced traction also means increased braking distances. If you are not used to these additional braking distances, and do not take it into consideration when you are driving, then this could increase your chances of you crashing into the back of the car in front of you.
Misaligned wheels can also cause uneven wear on your tires, as excess pressure is being exerted onto tires that have greater contact with the road. If this happens for a long period of time, tires will need to be replaced prematurely. Your fuel consumption may also increase, as reduced traction means more force is needed to reach desired speeds.
How can you diagnose misaligned wheels?
There are a few “tests” that you can run to diagnose whether your vehicle may have a wheel alignment problem. Although they cannot categorically confirm or deny whether your wheels are misaligned, they can help you determine whether it’s worth taking your car in for an inspection.
These tests are:
- Checking tires for uneven wear: If you can see or feel that tires are more worn on one side of your car than the other, then this indicates that your wheels are likely to be misaligned.
- Checking the “resting” position of your steering wheel: If you can find an unused drivable path, such as a long driveway, drive for a few dozen yards with your hands off the steering wheel. If the “resting” position of the steering wheel is off center, then this is indicative of misaligned wheels.
- Checking where you need to hold your steering wheel to stay in a lane: Be mindful of where you need to hold your steering wheel to drive in a straight line. If the steering wheel is not completely centered, this could be due to having misaligned wheels.
What to do if you have misaligned wheels?
Given the impact of misaligned wheels on the safety of your vehicle, the best thing to do if you notice the signs of misalignment is to take your vehicle in for professional alignment. Any of the 16+ Greulich’s locations can get you in for a free alignment check very quickly. If alignment is needed, they can fix the issue same-day in most cases.
You can schedule an alignment check and/or service with your nearest Greulich’s team here or give them a call. A full list of locations is available here. Of course, walk-ins are always welcome as well!
How To Get The Best Gas Mileage Out Of Your Vehicle – Greulich’s Automotive Repair
Summer is quickly approaching and those who have lived in the Valley (or survived an Arizona summer) know the joy of escaping the heat, if even just for the weekend. Thankfully, Phoenix is surrounded by cooler destinations close enough to get to with just a few-hour road trip, and while escaping the heat may be the #1 priority, saving some money in the process is ALWAYS a plus! If you are planning to ditch the heat this summer, a simple vehicle inspection and tune-up before you hit the road can boost your gas mileage by up to 16%! Repairing larger issues, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can boost gas mileage by up to 40% in some cases.
It is recommended to have your vehicle inspected and tuned up about every 30,000 miles. Of course, this varies by vehicle, so be sure to ask your mechanic what the specific recommendations are for your year, make and model. In general, the standard services conducted in a “tune-up” can boost gas mileage by up to 4%. Furthermore, replacing a dirty air filter can increase gas mileage by up to 10%, and using the recommended oil type can boost gas mileage by up to 2%.
Another easy tip to get the most bang for your vacation buck is to keep your tires properly inflated. This can improve gas mileage by up to 3%. It is also a good idea to get your A/C checked before the long haul, especially when traveling to or from Phoenix! Not to be pessimistic but we all know Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. A pre-trip tune-up and A/C check can help save you money and keep your family safe (and cool) as intended.
As always, the Greulich’s team is here and happy to serve you. We have 16 locations in the Valley, so there is always a location near you whether you are at home, at work or on the road to cooler temps. Give us a call today. We can usually get your vehicle inspection and tune-up done the same day!
Top Five Things to Check On Your Car Before A Long Trip
There is no doubt 2020 has brought a lot of unknown into our worlds and our holidays may look a little different this year. We understand family is important and many of you are still planning on seeing your family for the holidays…you may opt to drive instead of flying this year. We wish your family the safest and happiest travels this holiday season and want to provide some quick tips from the car care experts (us!). Here are the top five things to get checked and replaced (if needed) before hitting the road:
Top Five Things to Have Your Mechanic Check
It is no mystery why your vehicle’s brake system maintenance and functionality are so important. Before a long trip, you should have your brake pads checked and replaced, if necessary, to prevent unexpected system failure (a.k.a. brakes going out). Most brake pads last anywhere from 25,000 to 75,000 miles. Your mechanic can usually check the health of your brakes in less than an hour and most repairs or brake pad replacements can be done in just a few hours. It is a simple but very important component to a SAFE and worry-free road trip!
In most cases, the warning signs that you need a new battery are quite apparent – problems starting your vehicle, sputtering sound coming from under the hood, internal lights dim or not working. While a failing battery is usually easy to detect before it completely dies, it is also possible for batteries to give up on the spot without any warning signs. There are also other less-common issues besides dying that a battery can experience such as leaks or corrosion. These issues do not normally give off the same signs that a failing battery does. A proactive check of your battery life can prevent these unfortunate situations from happening to you. You do not want to find yourself stranded on the road with a bad battery, especially on a long trip where you may be in between metro areas and far away from the nearest auto repair shop.
When we mention “fluids” in terms of car care, most people immediately think of the oil…and most of us know the importance of regular oil changes; however, there are other fluids that are specific to certain mechanical systems in your vehicle that are important to check, as well. Before hitting the road, having ALL the fluids in your vehicle checked and refilled can help make sure all the important components are ready for the extended running periods that a long trip presents. Here are the fluids your mechanic should check for you before hitting the road:
- Brake Fluid (checking those brakes again…see the importance?!?)
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Radiator Coolant
- Windshield Washer Fluid (you will need to clean the bugs off eventually)
The air filter in your car keeps dirt and debris from getting into your engine. The dirtier or more clogged your air filter is, the harder your engine will have to work to get air, making it easier to overheat and snowball into all sorts of other problems. Bottom line, keeping a clean air filter keeps your engine and all the other parts down the line clean and working efficiently.
Lights and Wipers
Simply enough, you want to make sure your headlights, fog lights, brake lights and windshield wipers are all in working condition. These components are very easy to replace yet, very important to a safe and happy road trip.
Vehicle Safety Tune-Up
Some additional safety tips that can make for a stress-free road trip:
- Check the condition of your spare tire and make sure you have the needed tools to replace a tire if you needed to (car jack, lug wrench, flashlight).
- Carry an emergency roadside kit with a blanket and medical supplies.
- Pack a case of water and some food.
- Pay attention to mile markers.
- Know or join a roadside assistance program. Save the phone number in your contacts.
Most auto repair shops will know exactly what to check if you tell them you are going on a road trip and want a full vehicle inspection. It is best to get your vehicle tuned up within a few days before leaving, so you know your vehicle is healthy and ready for the long haul.
Your safety is always our #1 priority. Now through the end of the year Greulich’s is offering a full travel rejuvenation for your vehicle INCLUDING INTERIOIR SANITIZATION for only $449. We will check, replace, repair and/or refill all the important components for your car (details here). Give us a call and ask for the Holiday Rejuvenation Special. We can get you right in and out on the same day in most cases!
Happy and safe travels from our family to yours!
Dealership vs. Independent Repair Shop
Typically, one of the first questions you ask yourself when your vehicle needs repair or service is if you should take it to the dealership or an independent repair shop. Is there a cost difference and if so, how much? Is there a difference in the quality and availability of parts? Difference in the technical knowledge of the mechanics? Difference in the convenience and amenities? Let’s take a closer look at some of these common questions:
Differences Between an Auto Repair Shop and The Dealership
If cost-efficiency is a priority, a local repair shop is typically the best way to go. Overhead costs of a dealership are much higher due to larger facilities, more employees, utilities, insurance, and overall higher operating costs. Dealerships must charge more for service to cover their costs. End of story.
Independent repair shops also have more flexibility in the parts they can order for your vehicle (more about parts in a minute) but dealerships must purchase only Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, which are typically more expensive for the same reasons listed above. The car manufacturers have much more overhead than a parts-only manufacturers, which translates into higher cost for the dealership and ultimately, you.
Lastly, a dealership has certain ways on how they must relay information about your vehicle set forth by the brand. Dealerships are going to want to fix everything at once, versus independent shops, which are more likely to give you feedback on which repairs are necessary and which ones can wait.
While the dealership approach is not necessarily bad, if you’re looking to keep your car running safely and at a reasonable cost, an independent shop is going to be your best bet.
The quality and brand of parts you want used in your vehicle is completely up to you. OEM parts (as mentioned above) are typically more expensive but they are not exclusive to the dealership. Nearly all independent repair shops have access to purchase OEM parts, the same parts a dealership is going to use. In fact, if an independent shop does not have direct access to order from the manufacturer, most will call a local dealership and order the part from the service department (if that is what you desire). The availability of OEM parts at an independent repair shop is a non-issue.
The main difference with parts is the quality and price. Independent shops can usually find a part that fits your quality AND cost requirements. Most parts, whether made by the auto manufacturer or a parts manufacturer, function exactly the same. Independent shops are able to have an honest conversation with you about the quality of OEM versus non-OEM parts, so it is always best to consult with your mechanic on the specific part in question.
Knowledge and Expertise
Automobile technology, while intricate, is consistent with not many variables from brand to brand. There ARE differences between the way a BMW is made and the way a Honda is made but the overall physics of how a vehicle functions, is the same.
A dealership technician will be trained and specialized in that specific make, will usually be the first to learn of recalls and/or updates, and will most likely have already seen and repaired your exact issue many times before. Independent repair shop technicians are more varied in their experience but that does not mean their technical knowledge and ability is inferior to that of the dealership; it just means the independent technician may perform additional diagnostic testing to identify the issue. Many independent repair shops, especially ones with deep roots in the community, will employ technicians with dealership experience.
Additionally, and most notable on this topic, most repair shops require their technicians to have formal certification from a national accrediting institution that govern what knowledge someone needs to have to work in the field. This sets a standard across the industry, dealership or independent. While a dealership technician may have more experience with one make, independent mechanics are just as knowledgeable in the mechanical systems of any and all vehicles due to the certifications they must also have.
Convenience and Customer Service
In today’s world, it’s all about convenience. How fast can you get this done? How advanced is your technology? How frictionless is the customer experience? How little will my life have to be affected by this? Dealership service departments used to be at the forefront of industry technology because they had more money to invest in it…back when the technology was more expensive. The truth is, with this technology more mainstream, there isn’t much a dealership can offer in terms of convenience that independent shops aren’t also offering. While dealerships will mostly always have bigger, more luxurious waiting rooms, independent shops can also easily offer text or e-mail updates on your service, provide complimentary transportation for longer repairs, and offer electronic payment options through text or e-mail.
Additional services, such as warranties and roadside assistance have been common practice for dealerships for some time but most independent shops have also jumped on that train and are able to offer the same (if not better) warranties and faster roadside assistance because of the fewer corporate hoops they need to jump through to get a tow truck and a ride out to you.
Independent repair shops typically are more customer friendly, as they rely on your satisfaction and loyalty more than a big box dealership does. A dealership service department can acquire customers from their sales department, whereas an independent shop relies solely on their service and their ability to keep their customers happy, therefore, you will most likely experience more personal and friendlier service from an independent shop.
Is an Auto Repair Shop or Dealership Better for Service
The ultimate decision to go with a dealership or an independent shop is a matter of personal preference. Each one offers something the other does not. If your vehicle is new and still under warranty, the dealership is usually your best bet (although independent shops ARE able to service a vehicle and keep the warranty intact). If budget is of no concern, you’re looking for a big comfy waiting room and make-specific expertise, the dealership is also your place. If you want to keep your car running safely and efficiently within a reasonable budget, and you don’t have a preference on OEM or non-OEM parts, an independent shop will be your go-to.
What to Look For in an Auto Repair Shop
Your vehicle is an integral part of your livelihood. As a mechanical machine you use every day, it is inevitable that parts are going to become worn or even worse, an unexpected event may occur, such as a piece of debris causing malfunction. The possibilities are unfortunately endless, and it can be extremely stressful when faced with a dysfunctional vehicle…but it doesn’t have to be! At Greulich’s we have been doing this for a long time (since 1977, actually) and there isn’t a situation we haven’t seen. However, we know this is not most peoples’ area of expertise (you’ve got your purpose and we’ve got ours!)…so, we gathered our experts into a room and came up with the top most important things to look for when choosing an auto mechanic.
Finding the Best Auto Mechanic
The first thing you should do when looking for a mechanic is to start with the people you trust most…friends, family and others who have been in your current situation. We understand there is nothing more trustworthy than someone who has experienced something first-hand. Read the company’s Google reviews, check out the company’s Facebook page for recommendations, and visit the company’s website.
Convenience is defined as “the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.” Who doesn’t want that! Your vehicle is already not working, why make it harder on yourself? A good auto shop will go to great lengths to make doing business with them as frictionless as possible because it means they CARE. Do they offer a clean waiting room with complimentary refreshments and seating so you can wait for your vehicle? For longer services, do they keep you updated on the status of your repair so you can plan your day(s) accordingly? Do they have an after-hours key drop, so you can bring your vehicle to the shop when it’s convenient FOR YOU? Do they have the proper relationships in place to get replacement parts quickly? All these things mean you’re looking at a repair shop that cares about you and your time.
Automotive repair is a complicated and complex process. There are over 30,000 unique parts in the average vehicle, and it takes special training to learn how they all work and how to identify an issue when there is one. A combination of years of experience as well as industry certifications strengthen your mechanic’s knowledge of all kinds of vehicles and potential issues. Qualifying organizations, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) provide tangible proof of formal education on the mechanics of your vehicle. Look for a company that is certified by a credible automotive institute.
Sometimes the elephant in the room, cost is the first thing most people think about when something on their vehicle goes wrong. No matter what repair shop you go to, two things factor into the total cost: parts and labor. a. The higher quality part, the higher the cost and vise versa. Before determining where to take your vehicle, you should consider the quality of parts that repair shop uses. Most shops can order different brands of parts based on your budget. b. All repair shops are going to charge for labor just like any service-based company does. The product is their knowledge, expertise, and TIME, hence why an experienced and certified technician is important and worth paying for (see Credentials section above). This same concept is also why we don’t get free baby sitting or free maid service (wouldn’t that be nice!). Bottom line…before choosing a mechanic, you should always consider if your priority is low cost or high quality or somewhere in between because there are auto repair options that sit all along that spectrum.
We hope these tips help relieve some of the anxiety around choosing an auto repair shop. It is our mission to make it as easy as possible to do business with us and that starts with making your choice of where to go an easy one. Greulich’s has been providing top-quality auto repair for over 43 years and we are determined to prove how stress-free automotive repair can be. Visit our website to locate any one of our 15 Valley locations. You can easily schedule a service online or simply walk into any one of our stores. An ASE certified technician is waiting to help.
Diagnosing the Dreaded “Check Engine” Light
We have all been there…and it always happens at the most inconvenient time. When the “check engine” light comes on every bad scenario runs through your head. How much will this cost? Can I drive on it? Why now? The truth is the check engine light serves to tell you something is not working as it should…but it is not always the end of the world. Something as simple as a loose gas cap can trigger the check engine light to come on and while you should not panic about the orange beacon, you should get it checked sooner rather than later (because it could also be indicating something serious).
All vehicles have a built-in computer system, called the Engine Control Unit (ECU), that monitors the different components in your vehicle. Today’s vehicles can have as many as 50 different computer systems that control elements such as the engine, braking mechanisms, safety features (such as back up cameras and lane departure warnings), tire health, transmission functionality and beyond.
Checking the Check Engine Light
Most auto repair shops will check your ECU for free using a hand-held code reader. Your mechanic will plug the code reader into your vehicle, and it will instantly scan all the systems your car computer manages. If something is not firing correctly, the vehicle computer will display a code on the code reader that corresponds with a major mechanical system. The code reader, while a very handy device, will only tell you what system in your car is having trouble. It does not tell you exactly what the problem with that system is. For instance, the code “P0700” indicates an error within the transmission but it does not tell us whether the gears are malfunctioning or if the vehicle is simply low on transmission fluid. For your mechanic to tell exactly what is wrong requires a deeper inspection and, in some cases, he/she may need to disassemble that area of the vehicle to get to the root of the problem. This can take a few hours to a few days depending on how complex the system is and where the problem lies.
The most common issues that trigger a check engine light are (not in order):
1. Bad Oxygen Sensor
The oxygen sensor detects how rich or lean your engine fuel to air ratio is. The intent of the oxygen sensor is to keep your emissions as low as possible and improve gas mileage. The mixture of fuel to oxygen needs to be a certain ratio for your vehicle to run efficiently. If your oxygen sensor is faulty, it causes your catalytic converter to work harder than it needs to, which leads to needing a new catalytic converter sooner than you otherwise would have. Catalytic converter replacement is typically a very costly service, therefore, keeping your oxygen sensor in good condition will save you money on gas and larger, costly repairs.
2. Faulty Spark Plugs or Wires
The spark plugs within your vehicle are what sends electricity to the ignition components to turn the car on. Essentially, they make your car start and keep it running. Faulty spark plugs or wires will prevent your vehicle from starting and can cause engine failure while driving. Most auto manufacturers recommend changing your spark plugs every 30,000 miles. In order to replace your spark plugs, the parts must be cool, usually requiring the vehicle to be at the shop for at least two hours. A routine vehicle inspection at Greulich’s includes checking the health of all the spark plugs and wires, so you do not find yourself stranded with a vehicle that wont start!
3. Loose Gas Cap
Maybe you just got gas and did not tighten your gas cap enough (or forgot to put it back on completely). When you check engine light goes on, this should be the first thing you check.
4. Faulty Alternator
The alternator charges your battery and keeps your car running. If your alternator is going out, you may experience, dimmed headlights or dash lights, your car not starting or stalling out while running. Most alternators will last a long time – about 7 years or 100,000 miles. Alternator replacement usually requires your vehicle to be in the shop for a few hours depending on if the new alternator is locally in stock.
5. Dead Battery
Your vehicle’s battery works in conjunction with the alternator to supply power to the car and keep it turned on and running. The battery stores the energy required by the starter to ignite all the mechanical systems in the vehicle when you turn the key. Once the vehicle is running, the alternator supplies continuous energy to the battery based on demand. Most car batteries will last about 3 years depending on many factors including brand, size and climate conditions. Extreme heat such as an Arizona summer, causes batteries to degrade faster. Battery replacement can usually be done within 10-15 minutes.
The check engine light is the lifeline to the inner workings of your vehicle. Just because you do not feel, hear, see or smell a problem, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You should always have your check engine light diagnosed by a professional as soon as it goes on. If there is something serious going on, continuing to drive on it can lead to much more costly repairs than if the problem were caught and repaired in the early stages.
Greulich’s Automotive Repair has 15 Valley locations and can get you in, read your check engine light, and provide a professional recommendation in under 10 minutes in most cases. You can easily schedule an appointment online, call us or simply walk into any of our locations.
Pre-Trip Driving Tips For Holiday Travels
So you’re piling into the car and hitting the road to get to your holiday destination. Unfortunately, so are 90% of other holiday travelers. The biggest travel tip? Travel very early or very late at night because the best way to beat traffic is to hit the road while everyone else is asleep.
Road trips aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. Especially if you’re planning to cover the average long-distance trip of 250 miles. To power through stick to the major interstates, which are usually the most direct routes through cities. Don’t be afraid to skip fast food and hit the grocery store instead. Listen to your favorite radio station, take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs, and most importantly, pull off the road when you get sleepy.
Get Your Car Ready For The Open Road
- Check your tire pressure. Treat your tires with care since they’re the only part of your vehicles that make contact with the road. Making sure tire pressure is optimal is key to avoiding blowouts.
- Make sure oil change isn’t needed. Routinely changing the oil improves vehicle and engine longevity and saves you money in the long run.
- Keep a clean air filter. A dirty air filter can make it harder to accelerate and can cause a reduction in fuel efficiency.
- Keep extra phone chargers in the vehicle. There’s nothing worse than a low cell phone battery, especially in the case of an emergency.
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions and prepare accordingly. Don’t get caught off guard by adverse weather or heavy road traffic and/or construction.
- Have emergency equipment on-board just in case. Prepare for the worst by having a tire jack, blanket, booster cables, flashlight and non-perishable food in the vehicle.
- Download travel apps. Sunday drives, Waze, Rest area finder, Google maps just to name a few.
Bring your car into any Greulichs Automotive service center for a complementary vehicle inspection today!