My Check Engine Light Is On! What Should I Do?

You are traveling down the road and you notice that yellow light just came on that says service your engine soon, or check engine. Like most drivers, you have no idea why it came on and what should I do, pull over and call a tow truck or just keep driving the vehicle since it seems to be running fine. The check engine light can point to several different problems, it can be as simple as a loose gas cap to your engine misfiring. What is does not mean is you do not have to panic and pull over and call a tow truck. But, you do not want to ignore the check engine light either. It has come on for a reason and it needs to be looked at by a qualified mechanic. By choosing to ignore the warning could result in damaging expensive engine components or getting poor fuel mileage.

The service engine or check engine light is part of your car’s OBD system which stands for onboard diagnostics. The OBD system monitors and controls the performance of your vehicle like fuel mixture, ignition timing and the RPM of your motor. In many vehicles today the computer will also let your transmission know when to shift.

When the computer realizes there is a problem that it can not correct, the computer will turn on a yellow light with a symbol that says check engine or service soon. When the light comes on it will store a trouble code in the computer that will identify the problem, which in most cases will be a misfiring engine, loose gas cap, or bad sensor. In order to know what is triggering the check engine light you will need to go to a mechanic that has an electronic scan tool. He can plug his scanner into your OBD system and read the code that is triggering the check engine light to come on. Once he identifies the code he can tell what necessary repairs will be required to correct the problem.

How Often Should I Have My Fuel Injectors Cleaned?

Fuel Injector AnimationCleaning your fuel injectors is important so they do not become clogged. Most automotive manufacturers recommend having them cleaned every 15,000 miles. If your car is newer and has low mileage then you can get away with going longer versus a car that is older with higher mileage. Another factor to consider is the quality of gas you put in your car. This can affect the rate that the injectors build up residue deposits. Using a high octane gas will lengthen the life of the injectors along with the engine.

If you do not want to have your injectors cleaned by a professional mechanic you can add a fuel additive into the gas tank and let it run through the fuel injection system cleaning the injectors. The additives that are available at your local auto parts store are made with jet fuel and fuel detergents that will deteriorate the gummy deposits that have developed on the tip of the injectors. The next option you have for servicing you fuel injector without removing them from the motor is to buy a fuel solvent that is made just for cleaning injectors. The solvent will be stronger than a fuel additive and will reduce or eliminate residue on the injectors.

When using solvent you do not add it to the gas tank, you will spot clean the injectors while they are still attached to the motor.  The last option is to take your car to an auto repair shop that specializes in fuel injection cleaning. They will remove the injectors from the car and use a special tool to clean each one. This route is a little more expensive but will get you the best results.

Using a Mechanical Or Software Based Tracking System For Your Fleet Vehicles

The service information you need to know about your vehicle should be in the owners manual that came from the dealer. This is a good guideline to keeping your fleet vehicle in good working condition, but is good to note what type of working conditions the vehicle is operating in. From normal to severe will depend on the amount of service your fleet vehicle will require. Examples of severe conditions would be towing a trailer, long periods of idling or low speed driving, deliveries, patrol car, taxi, multiple drivers, dusty conditions or off road use.

Your fleet vehicles can be monitored for service by manually keeping good records of the vehicle or using a fleet management software.

Manually keeping maintenance records of your fleet vehicles can be very tedious and time consuming to manage. With today’s technology even the smallest fleet of vehicles can afford a good tracking software. By inputting the information about each vehicle into a computer system becomes much more efficient and a better way of tracking your maintenance scheduling. This now allows reports of each vehicle to be generated allowing the fleet manager to make proactive decisions in a timely matter.

There are companies that specialize in fleet management software and the programs can be purchased for a reasonable price whether you are a small or large company.

If you use a fleet vehicle tracking system that is mechanical or software based it is important to buy a system that is customizable to your requirements. Your fleet operating system should be able to create and track work orders, record maintenance history, customize preventive maintenance schedules, track fuel usage and monitor invoicing.

The Rise and Fall Of The Saturn Brand

The Saturn brand started in the 1980s. The CEO of GM at the time, Roger Smith, saw imports were chipping away at the company’s profits. Deciding it was time to fight back hard, a new project was launched nick-named Saturn. The goal of project Saturn was simple: counter increasing imports and create new innovations for General Motors.

What made Saturn a unique GM brand was that it was granted some autonomy. It was free to dictate all parts of its business, employees, engineering, and manufacturing. This all added up to an excellent customer experience, which led to the creation of “The Saturn Difference” slogan.

Over time Saturn built a brand that was focused on and driven by the customer, which led to amazing results. As the years went on Saturn really did gain back its customers that were lost to imports. Saturn also went beyond traditional advertising methods to create a unique experience between car manufacturer and customer. “Saturn Homecoming” events were launched, causing customers to feel as if they were apart of the Saturn culture.

Then, suddenly, Saturn lost its way. Many speculate GM saw Saturn cars as a completed project that didn’t require further investment and attention. Political drama within GM soon arose and Saturn became a target for other GM brands as they vied for scarce resources and customers. In the end, Saturn went from a standalone GM company to an internal competitor, eventually causing them to be discontinued.

Do driving conditions effect the oil in my car?

Oil SludgeIf you drive your car in extreme hot climates than you should read this article. When your car is exposed to hot climate weather on a regular basis it will cause your oil to break down which then results in engine and sludge deposits. Hot temperatures will also cause your oil to thin out which results in metal to metal grinding in your engine.  This problem can escalate even further if you are constantly towing heavy loads in hot weather.  To avoid this problem it is always best to run a higher viscosity oil. There are several oils on the market that will meet this demand.

Another driving condition that can be harmful to your motor oil is only driving short distances each day. Your car never reaches its normal operating temperature which creates water condensation in the motor diluting the oil and breaking it down. This will shorten the engines lifespan leaving you with a costly repair bill.

We have talked about extreme heat conditions to your oil so what about extreme cold conditions. If you live where the outside temperature is cold the oil in your car will run thicker which makes the oil harder to circulate in the motor when you go to start it. This makes it harder for the engine to start up and will lead to faster engine wear. So in cold weather it is always best to run a thinner oil viscosity to avoid these problems. As outside temperatures change during the season it will be important to change your oil to the correct viscosity.

What is that noise coming from my brakes?

Avoiding the brakes on your car will only lead to expensive repair cost or no brakes at all. This can be avoided if you pay a little attention to the noises that come from your brakes when applied. You get used to certain noises coming from your car, so when a new noise appears it is time to pay attention and see where it is coming from. This can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Catching the problem early is key to a less expensive repair bill.

The most common noise coming from your brakes that will tell you it is time to have them inspected is a high pitched squeal when you apply the brakes. This sound comes from a small piece of metal in the brakes called an indicator that tells you your pads have worn down to the point it is time to have them changed. When your pads have worn down to where there is ¼ inch of brake pad left the metal piece will rub on the rotor creating a screeching noise similar to your fingernails running down a black board.

When having your brakes replaced it is a good idea to have the rotors inspected to see if they will need to be turned. This procedure will involve removing the rotor and having it turned down so the surface is smooth again. If you ignore this part your new brake pads will wear out twice as fast since they are not being applied to a smooth surface.

When choosing a good brake pad you can never go wrong with the original parts from the dealer. There are many after market brake pads that are just as good as the dealer, so it would be important to research the type of brake pad being used to assure you will be getting the best mileage out of your new brake pads.

By paying attention to your brakes and having your brakes serviced when you start to hear noises will always save you money in the long run. The longer you put if off the more it will cost you for the repair.