Beach Benz

Servicing Mercedes Benz Exclusively for over 20 years

Watching Your Check Engine Light

Did you know that most of the cars driving around Huntington Beach California carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?

New cars sold in the Fountain Valley area have as many as twelve networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle’s functions.

Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do you know when there is a problem?

It’s simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.

It can be pretty disturbing when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to our service center at Beach Benz to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.

Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.

Your technician at Beach Benz has special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.

Stop by if you’re check engine light is on.

Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Beach Benz

A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the news. Huntington Beach people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel economy and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Huntington Beach motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, 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 sedans for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

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

Huntington Beach drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change. Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Beach BenzThat may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your sedan’s engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine.

There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Huntington Beach car owners. It’s simple – a Beach Benz 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 Beach Benz technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your Beach Benz advisor will also visually inspect your sedan 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 Beach Benz advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Huntington Beach dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your sedan 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 money, but they are far cheaper than new sedan payments. With proper service at Beach Benz and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.

Beach Benz Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas

People in Huntington Beach California often ask the question: “Will using premium gas make my car run better?” The answer is simple. But first, let’s talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.

Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Huntington Beach California also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.

Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.

There’s a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your manufacturer recommends.

For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by our Huntington Beach California service center:
Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816

Read your owner’s manual carefully to see if it’s acceptable to use lower grades. With some cars in Huntington Beach California it is; the engine control computer can adapt. You’ll lose some performance, but won’t do damage. With other engines, using a lower grade of fuel could result in serious damage; so you don’t want to save a couple of bucks at the pump only to pay it out a hundred fold at the repair shop.

Your car will run best on the grade of gasoline recommended by the manufacturer.

Today’s computer controlled vehicles are optimized to run well on the recommended grade of fuel. Using a higher grade than is recommended will not give you any additional performance or better fuel economy.

Regulations require detergents for all grades of gasoline, so your engine will have the same protection, regardless of the grade of fuel you use. If you do hear some knocking or pinging from your engine, take it seriously and get your sedan into Beach Benz. It may be a sign that you need a tune-up or some other repair.

In times of high gas prices, we’re all conscious of making our fuel dollar go further as we drive around Huntington Beach California. Be sure to use the right gas for your car. Keep your tires properly inflated and your vehicle well maintained and you will get the best fuel economy possible.

Air Conditioning Maintenance At Beach Benz In Huntington Beach

Warm weather or cold, Huntington Beach drivers still need to think about their sedan’s air conditioning. Most Huntington Beach people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Beach Benz, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturer’s preventive maintenance schedules for air conditioning 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 sedan’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 Beach Benz in Huntington Beach.

The refrigerant also contains a special 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 Huntington Beach car owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Beach Benz, 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 Huntington Beach 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 Beach Benz 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 sedan’s air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.

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

If you’re not getting enough cool air 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 Beach Benz. Replacing a bad A/C clutch in a sedan is cheaper than waiting for it to ruin the compressor.

Huntington Beach 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 sedan. 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 Beach Benz service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they’re doing your air conditioning service.

Recommended Huntington Beach Service Intervals

Everyone in Huntington Beach California knows we’re supposed to go to the dentist twice a year. We get our teeth cleaned and have a thorough dental inspection. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye. When the dentist is done, he tells us what he’s found – “Everything’s fine, see you in six months.” Or “You’ve got a small cavity starting, let’s schedule an appointment to take care of it.” By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary repairs.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If we buy into this way of handling our dental care, why do we resist so much when facing the same system for our car care?

Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816

Following the manufacturer’s recommended intervals can be confusing. First there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing …you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it’s hard to keep it all straight – even if you’re part of the 1% of the population that reads your owners’ manual in Huntington Beach California.

And if you have more than one car or sedan, the complexity is multiplied. You’d need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that’s how your Huntington Beach service center does it. They subscribe to automotive databases that have your vehicle’s recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it’s all in the computer.

Well, it’s not all in the computer. There are other variables that can’t be accounted for in the schedule. Things like the weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive when you are out in our Huntington Beach California area need to be taken into account. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Beach Benz and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner’s manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that’s not highway driving in moderate weather is considered severe, most of us do at least some of that around Huntington Beach California and it should be taken into consideration.

Let’s take your basic oil change as an example – what issues are involved? The oil you put in your car is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That’s why most maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.

It’s easy to think, “Gee, I’ve only driven 2,000 miles in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change.” But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a harsh environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that starts degrading its effectiveness even when it’s just sitting there.

A lot of people in Huntington Beach California don’t realize the harm that can be done by just skipping a single oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it’s clogged up because you haven’t changed it, it can’t trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think ‘Vaseline’. Obviously, sludge doesn’t lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don’t get properly protected by the oil. That’ll lead to premature wear.

If you’ve missed some oil changes, don’t despair. Just talk with your service advisor at Beach Benz. Fess up – you’ll feel better. And he can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your car on the road and avoiding major repairs in Huntington Beach California.

Take a look at the auto tips video in this post for more information.