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.

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 Importance Of Mission Viejo Drivers Following Service Intervals

Today in our Autobahn West blog, we’re going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your pickup isn’t the only aspect of your life in Mission Viejo with recommended intervals: Let’s start with twice yearly dental check-ups and regular physical exams. How about laundry, watering the lawn and paying the bills?

Now, what would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You’d may not discover health conditions that could be more effectively treated with early detection. And you’d have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your brown lawn and have your utilities shut off.

The Importance Of Mission Viejo Drivers Following Service IntervalsClearly, there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life in Mission Viejo takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.

So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our pickups? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don’t seem that urgent. All our Mission Viejo neighbors can see our dead lawn, but no one knows how dirty our transmission fluid is. It’s easy to put off. The other reason is that we’re just not as familiar with automotive maintenance, so it’s a bit intimidating.

From a practical standpoint, Mission Viejo people don’t need to memorize their pickup owner’s manuals. You can let your Autobahn West advisor remind you of the guidelines established by manufacturers: he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your pickup. You really can rely on Autobahn West professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.

For Mission Viejo drivers who want to be more proactive with their pickup care, here are some simple ways for Mission Viejo drivers to remember what has a maintenance interval.

First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.

Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, don’t forget brakes and shock absorbers.

And what makes your pickup go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Mission Viejo car owners remember to take their car or truck in to Autobahn West for these things, their service advisor will help them with the rest.

And if you don’t follow recommended service intervals? You get lousy gas mileage, your pickup doesn’t run as well, your safety is compromised and you’ll spend more money in the long run. So it’s the same as everything else: The quality of your motoring life takes a hit and it ends up costing you more.

Reason enough for me to follow recommended service intervals.

Does Your Car Have A Recall Item?

No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. Think of all the moving parts. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the car maker to issue recall notices to Mission Viejo residents and to fix the affected cars free of charge. The vehicle manufacturer then tries to contact all Mission Viejo car owners who own that type of car so they can have it taken care of at their Mission Viejo service center.

To find out if your car has any recall issues, give us a call:
Autobahn West
25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200 Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949.525.9730

These recalls always affect safety, so Mission Viejo auto owners would be wise to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.

Other website include: carfax.com; autobytel.com; and dmv.org. All of these sites have free recall searches.

Recalls are pretty serious for Mission Viejo auto owners and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that Mission Viejo motorists still might want to know about. For these less serious cases, manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell Mission Viejo service centers (including Autobahn West)  how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.

Your Mission Viejo service professional receives updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. Mission Viejo car owners can buy access to these for an annual fee.

Whatever your source, pay attention to Mission Viejo vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.

Maintenance for High Mileage Vehicles In Mission Viejo CA

Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Mission Viejo CA area (zip code: 92691) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Autobahn West we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.

If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Irvine area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance:
Autobahn West
25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949.525.9730

Many people in Mission Viejo are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern pickups are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

Local car owners in Mission Viejo with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let’s start with the special needs of the older vehicle…

The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There’ll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.

All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.

So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they’re worth it.

In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.

Talk with your Mission Viejo service advisor at Autobahn West about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.

Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.

If anything, following recommended service intervals for your pickup is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.

So, have your Mission Viejo auto service advisor at Autobahn West help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven’t gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it’s time to start taking care of those things. It’ll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.

Are Modern Vehicles Maintenance Free?

In our auto video today we’ll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that “modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free”.

Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Mission Viejo Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn’t so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.

Here are some examples for our friends in Mission Viejo.

  • Some cars in Mission Viejo no longer require chassis lubrication. They’re made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There’s literally is no way to grease those joints.

-Chalk one up for the myth.

On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn’t even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.

  • So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.

-A point to maintenance.

  • Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.

-Myth gets a point.

  • Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.

-Point for maintenance.

I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they’ve always been.

So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Mission Viejo if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there’ll always be a check list.

Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.

It’s cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines’ maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.

So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don’t want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner’s manual or ask your Mission Viejo service advisor at Autobahn West to check on the recommendation right away.

Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it’s cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That’ll cost 5 or 6 times as much.

For our friends in Mission Viejo, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Autobahn West. You’ll find us at 25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200 in Mission Viejo, CA 92691. Just give us a call at 949.525.9730.

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last With Help From Autobahn West

A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the CA news. Mission Viejo people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better MPG and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Mission Viejo motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, Mission Viejo grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their pickups for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of Mission Viejo drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own pickups on the road in CA.

The smart Mission Viejo motorists of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Autobahn WestThat may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your pickup’s engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is harmful for your engine.

There’s another essential reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Mission Viejo car owners. It’s simple – a Autobahn West professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Autobahn West technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your understanding Autobahn West service professional will also visually inspect your pickup for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.

And your Autobahn West advisor will be able to remind you of other critical services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Mission Viejo dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your pickup gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost some income, but they are less expensive than new pickup payments in Mission Viejo. With proper service at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more bucks in your wallet.

Maintaining Your Older Car In Mission Viejo CA

The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Mission Viejo CA: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Mission Viejo CA motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.

Because new cars are more expensive, people in the Irvine area are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in Irvine have more than 75,000 miles. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today’s cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin’.

Give Autobahn West a call to schedule your next maintenance.
25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949.525.9730

Some owner’s manuals don’t specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done. In fact, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles.

First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that’s recommended every 15,000 miles should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule – ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks – seals and gaskets dry out over time and don’t hold the fluids as well as they used to.

It’s also time to make sure you have a good Mission Viejo CA technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble’s brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.

And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car’s appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.

High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.

Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it’s way cheaper than a new car payment!

Looking Down the Road – Headlamps

If you’ve ever been driving around Mission Viejo and had a headlamp go out, you’ve probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won’t have the same brightness which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.

To have your headlights inspected, visit us at Autobahn West. We’re at 25800 Jeronimo Rd. #200 in Mission Viejo, CA 92691. Or give us a call at 949.525.9730

Experts in Mission Viejo recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It’s easy to remember if you do it when daylight savings time changes in the fall. That way you’ll have bright headlamps for those long Mission Viejo winter nights.

There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can’t believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and give a very white light that’s a lot like daylight.

You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they’ll last for the life of your car. If you want your Mission Viejo friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint – no one needs to know.

Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can’t react to what you can’t see. You need headlamps that’ll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. And your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and also, to keep your lights from shining off into on-coming traffic.

You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That’s because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Mission Viejo service centers offer a service to restore the lens that’s a lot cheaper.

You can’t drive if you can’t see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don’t forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.