Autobahn West

Providing superb car service and repairs to BMW, Mini Cooper, Porsche, Volvo and Mercedes owners since 1976

Autobahn West - Providing superb car service and repairs to BMW, Mini Cooper, Porsche, Volvo and Mercedes owners since 1976

The Harm In Skipping An Oil Change For Mission Viejo Drivers

People in Mission Viejo have been hearing a lot about higher oil change intervals these days. Maybe you’re wondering: What are the key issues?

Some new vehicle manufacturers in Mission Viejo are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new car manufacturers announced that owners like those in Mission Viejo were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.

The manufacturers’ standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles. People following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. It turns out that oil sludge was building up. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.

What causes oil sludge? It’s a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation.

Visit Autobahn West in Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Severe driving around Mission Viejo includes short trips under four miles or trips under ten miles in freezing conditions. The engine just doesn’t get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate.

Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop-and-go driving, towing, dusty conditions, heavy loads, very hot or very cold temperatures, a car top carrier – these are all conditions that would suggest that the severe service schedule should be considered.

The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals. People in Mission Viejo just need to honestly evaluate how they drive to determine if they should change their oil closer to the severe service schedule, or to the standard schedule.

Some types of pickup will give oil change reminders. But it’s important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature and so on. It’s programmed to approximate where on the standard/severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.

For the rest of us, better safe than sorry should be the guiding principle. Talk with your Mission Viejo service advisor at Autobahn West and work it out together. Find out what kind of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it’s a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what’s needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.

If you’re realistically conservative, standard grades of oil will take care of you year after year. If you want to push the limits, ask for a premium grade oil to give you extra protection.

So, what happened with those manufacturers with the problems from higher oil change intervals? They ended up extending the engine warranty for parts that were affected by oil sludge. But they had a stipulation – they lowered the oil change interval and the vehicle owner had to provide proof of oil changes at the new lower interval to keep the extended warranty.

Technician Training at Autobahn West

Your car is important to you and keeping it running properly is vital to your Mission Viejo lifestyle. That’s why you’re smart to have it serviced regularly at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo. And even though it may just be routine maintenance, you want it done right by automotive professionals.

It’s also very important to your Mission Viejo service center to keep you happy and on the road. You might be surprised at the amount of money our Mission Viejo auto service center spends annually to make sure our understanding techs are properly trained.

  Autobahn West offers a variety of automotive services for many kinds of vehicles. We need to be current on the latest techniques and parts so that we can give you quality service. Our Mission Viejo centers subscribe to data services that list the high quality parts and fluids recommended by your manufacturer.

And each service has a checklist of standard procedures. Autobahn West technicians follow these procedures so they can safely deliver a consistent level of high-quality service.

Some services at Autobahn West require the use of specialized equipment. Autobahn West technicians are trained extensively on this equipment so that they can service your car quickly and efficiently.

Classroom, video and hands-on training is provided by the company and outside trainers. It’s not only important that understanding service advisors be able to perform a given task, they also need to be thoroughly trained in inspection and diagnostic techniques. One of the great services they perform is to detect potential problems before they become serious (and costly).

The automotive service industry has standards for classifying and communicating problems to car owners. For example, it’s one thing to learn that your manufacturer recommends that you change your serpentine belt every 30,000 miles and another to learn that the belt is on the verge of failure. These standards help you understand the urgency of recommendations, letting you make better automotive service decisions.

CA folks may be interested to know that service technicians (including those at Autobahn West) are trained in compliance with federal and local Mission Viejo laws and regulations, including environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used parts and fluids.

It’s the goal of Autobahn West to provide fast, courteous service. You should feel free to ask your understandingtech or one of the managers about your service or for more information about their recommendations.

At Autobahn West, well-trained service providers, established procedures, industry standards, and, of course, AutoNetTV, combine to give you the best auto service in Mission Viejo.

The Fallacy of Cheap Tires

Do you ever shop for shoes in one of our Irvine area shoe stores?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pair of lower quality shoes at the same price?

Is the warranty important when buying tires?

When you choose new tires in Mission Viejo, what’s the most important factor for you?

Give us a call at Autobahn West at 949.525.9730 for tire recommendations.

You know, buying tires in Mission Viejo is a big deal. It’s a big ticket item so you know you’ll be spending a lot. You’re not only concerned about the price, but you want to know that it’ll be a long time before you need to buy new tires again.

And of course there’s the safety aspect as well. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. They need to be up to the task. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer, the tires need a high load rating to be up for the job.

As a tire professional, I think it’s important that people understand the effect of price on a tire’s performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad had a saying. He said, “Pay twice as much and buy half as many”.

Dad applied that to a lot of things. He thought that one high quality suit would last longer and look better than two cheap suits. The saying really seems to hold true when it comes to shoes and boots, too.

I buy high-quality work shoes because I spend a lot of time on my feet. They’re more comfortable, have important safety features like steel toes and non-slip soles – and they last at least twice as long as cheap shoes. I feel I get very good value for my money.

I apply the same thinking to tires. The major tire brands that you’re familiar with are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are well-engineered and very high quality. Comparable tires are usually in the same price range from brand to brand.

Stepping down in price you come to private label tires. Some large tire store chains carry tires with the chain’s own brand. It’s important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 brands that you are familiar with – so they are a quality product. You can ask your tire professional who makes their private brand.

The lowest priced tires on the market are Tier 3 tires. These tend to be imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can’t expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.

So let’s say you need new tires. You’ve determined the features you need. So you have several options, including price options. Now, you’ve probably heard the term ‘it’s a 40 thousand mile tire’ or ‘it’s a 60 thousand mile tire’. Simply put, the manufacturer warrantees the tire for ‘X’ number of miles. If that’s important to you, look for the warranty.

What’s the difference in the tires with higher mileage warranties? It’s the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you’ll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.

Now the cheapest tires you can find won’t have a manufacturer’s mileage warranty or if it does, it’ll be relatively low. That brings us back to dad’s saying; if you buy the cheapest Tier 3 tire you can, you will likely go through two sets in the time it would take to wear out one set of good quality tires. And the good tires won’t cost twice as much, so you’ll end up paying more per mile driven with the cheap tires.

Hey, I realize that sometimes the budget will only allow for a Tier 3 tire. I make them available for my customers who need them because I would rather see them driving with safe, new tires than pushing their old tires beyond their safety limits. But I always counsel my customers to buy as much tire as they can afford, because it will be much less expensive in the long run.

Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that touch the road. You’re only as safe as your tires are well built.

Buy value – not price.

Autobahn West On Your Serpentine Belt

Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Mission Viejo, CA customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the vital device that makes electricity to power the pickup and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you’re driving around CA in the summer.

The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most Mission Viejo motorists’ vehicles. Those pumps provide critical pressure that assists your steering and braking.

In many pickups, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Mission Viejo, CA, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.

The radiator cooling fans on some pickups are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of critical work for one belt.

But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of essential work, but they’re tough and can last Mission Viejo car owners for thousands of miles.

Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Mission Viejo, CA area. Your car maker will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection at Autobahn West can detect a belt that’s getting close to failing.

Your understanding Autobahn West technician can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch, it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt – replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? Toss it.

What’s involved in replacing the belt at Autobahn West? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.

This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its critical job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV and the automotive professionals at Autobahn West recommend Mission Viejo motorists replace them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.

What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Mission Viejo streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.

What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on a busy Irvine highway, it can be a little scary. The first thing Mission Viejo drivers usually notice is that they have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.

Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is vital because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling. Pull over as quickly as you safely can!

The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Mission Viejo, CA traffic.

Remember, Mission Viejo car owners can avoid this stressful scenario if they replace their pickup serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your understanding Autobahn West technician to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.

Autobahn West
25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949.525.9730

The Autobahn West Guide for Mission Viejo Drivers: Where Should New Tires Be Placed

When Mission Viejo drivers 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 understanding Autobahn West tire professional can help you know when your worn tires should be replaced, if you can have a damaged tire repaired as well as selecting the right tires for your needs.

Give us a call

Autobahn West
949.525.9730
25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Save Fuel By Watching Your Weight

Most Mission Viejo car owners are all talking gas mileage right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. CA folks want to save the environment and our pocketbooks.

And we Mission Viejo motorists all know — or should know — that preventive maintenance will help maintain maximum MPG. But is there something more we can do? After all, some of us Mission Viejo drivers can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of MPG. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Mission Viejo to Laguna Niguel to El Toro. And that means buying more gas and producing more emissions.

Of course, your vehicle’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your car. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around Mission Viejo? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Mission Viejo neighborhood? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your pickup: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.

Clean out your vehicle. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire — the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in the car when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around Mission Viejo all the time.

After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some income
.

Wheel Balancing at Autobahn West

So you love your job, and your family life is great. Congratulations! You have achieved balance. But can you say the same for your wheels? Mission Viejo car owners can tell if their tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds on CA highways. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it’s a back tire, you’ll feel the vibration in your seat.

Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel at Autobahn West, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the service advisor will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it’s too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That’s where you get your vibration.

Most Mission Viejo car owners are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.

Most high-quality tires sold in Mission Viejo hold their balance pretty well for car owners. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive and dangerous tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. Wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some pricey repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better MPG.

Some Irvine auto owners have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners’ manual for your requirements, or ask your understanding Autobahn West service professional. Doing this will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance.

Air Conditioning Maintenance At Autobahn West In Mission Viejo

Warm weather or cold, Mission Viejo drivers still need to think about their vehicle’s air conditioning. Most Mission Viejo people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Autobahn West, we can advise you on your ‘s preventive maintenance schedules for air conditiong service, just as we do for transmission service, oil changes and so on.

air conditioningMaintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job. Small leaks in the pickup’s air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can’t cool the air as well. We see that a lot at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo.

The refrigerant also contains an important oil that lubricates air conditioning components, and keeps the seals resilient. Low refrigerant and lubricating oil means that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and all Mission Viejo car owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Autobahn West, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.

Corrosion is what leads to many air conditioning system failures for Mission Viejo motorists. The small leaks mentioned earlier also mean that air and water can leak into the air conditioning system. This can lead to rust and dirt in the internal workings of the air conditioning components. This greatly accelerates wear and, ultimately, failure.

Air conditioning service at Autobahn West starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks. The compressor is driven by a belt from the engine, most often the serpentine belt, so it’s inspected for cracks or wear. The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation. Then comes the leak test. If a leak is detected, often in a hose or connection, it’s repaired and the system is retested.

Then the old refrigerant is evacuated and the system is recharged with clean, fresh refrigerant. A final test insures that the pickup’s air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.

How often this should be done varies from vehicle to vehicle. Your pickup owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s recommendation and, of course, your Autobahn West service advisor can tell you. It’s typically every two years.

If you’re not getting enough cool air out of your AC you know something’s wrong. Also, if you hear strange sounds when you turn the air on, there might be a problem with the compressor and you should get it checked out at Autobahn West. Replacing a bad A/C clutch in a pickup is cheaper than waiting for it to ruin the compressor.

Mission Viejo drivers need to be aware that there’s one more thing that isn’t directly related to air conditioning service, but does impact the quality of the air in your pickup. And that’s your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that comes from the heater and air conditioner. The cabin air filter needs to be replaced when it’s dirty. If you don’t it’ll start to smell. Not all vehicles have one, so ask your Autobahn West service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they’re doing your air conditioning service.

Tire Rotation and Balancing at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo

Tires do a lot of important work for Mission Viejo auto owners. They transfer engine power and braking forces to the road; they handle steering control; and they cushion all those bumps and jolts while driving around Mission Viejo. They also support the entire weight of the vehicle, including you and your passengers. With such critical work to do, you want your tires to do their job well. And since replacing tires is fairly expensive, you want them to last as long as possible.

There are three keys to long, even tire wear for Mission Viejo auto owners:

  • Proper tire inflation
  • Proper wheel alignment
  • Regular tire rotation and balancing

The front tires on a car take the brunt of the steering forces. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down more quickly than the rear tires. Rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate. That’s especially true of front wheel drive vehicles whose front tires steer, and put the power to the road.

SUVs and pick-ups, especially four wheel drives, also tend to wear their tires more unevenly than cars because of their suspension and drivetrain set-up. Your owner’s manual will likely contain a schedule for tire rotation. It’s usually every 5,000 miles or so.

Also, there are different rotation patterns for different vehicles. Autobahn West will know which is right for your vehicle. That brings us to wheel balancing. When wheels are balanced, they spin on the axle evenly. When they are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear unevenly and may transmit a vibration to the car. Your understanding Autobahn West tech puts weights on your wheels to balance them out so that they turn true and smooth.

Tires are a big investment for Mission Viejo auto owners. They’re vital for keeping you safely on the road in Mission Viejo. The cost for regular rotation and balancing is more than made up in extended tire life. And, can you really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers?

Keep Your Cool In Mission Viejo

/>

Mission Viejo auto owners rely on their car’s coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your pickup engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.

There’s a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that’s easily reached inside your pickup’s engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.

Also, if it’s freezing outside in Mission Viejo, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the CA cold.

So, if you remember your Mission Viejo high school chemistry, you’ll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.

Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Mission Viejo.

Keep Your Cool In Mission Viejo Whenever your pickup is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it’s cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.

All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal pickup engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. The pricey parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole pickup’s engine is ruined and has to be junked.

This is why it is critical that Mission Viejo drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their pickup cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your pickup auto maker has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask us at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo.

The reason Mission Viejo auto owners need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other pickup cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.

Many Mission Viejo auto owners ask Autobahn West why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don’t mix them up.

The manufacturers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.

So check with us at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo or your owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your pickup cooling system.