Beach Benz

Servicing Mercedes Benz Exclusively for over 20 years

Using Proper Fluids In Your sedan Or Other Vehicle

Today Beach Benz is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It’s become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It’s not that people in California are confused as much as they don’t realize how much things have changed in recent years.

If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don’t hesitate to stop by Beach Benz. You can find us on 7492 Slater Ave in Huntington Beach, California 92647.
Just give us a call at 714 842-9816

Let’s take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.

It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it’s cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn’t thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.

Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.

So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.

Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It’s certainly in the owner’s manual. Of course, your Huntington Beach California auto service center can look it up for you.

It’s more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.

Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.

So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn’t formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you’re using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won’t be covered under warrantee. So it’s important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.

Your owner’s manual or your Huntington Beach California service advisor at Beach Benz can make sure you’re using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That’s OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer’s recommendation for your sedan or other auto type is always a safe bet.

In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It’s important to remember that the new ones aren’t better than the old ones. They’re just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.

There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.

They’re fine to use as long as they’re a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it’s also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it’s the right type for your transmission.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

 

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Huntington Beach auto owners and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us Huntington Beach motorists.

Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause critical engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at California interstate speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Huntington Beach service center.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your friendly Beach Benz tech to get it checked out.

Some more Huntington Beach information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for Huntington Beach drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range the computer runs some tests and may turn on the sedan’s Check Engine Light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine Light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine Light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine Light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on and you should get your sedan looked at. Your friendly Beach Benz service advisor will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Huntington Beach Drivers

Knowing how their engine works can help Huntington Beach motorists make informed decisions about car care and prevent costly repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.

An engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.

All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.

Not all vehicles in the Huntington Beach area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many auto manufacturers use them to save money.

Timing belts wear out and break, so a key part of preventive maintenance for Huntington Beach motorists is to replace the timing belt on schedule.

The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Huntington Beach drivers. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly dangerous situation depending on where you are driving around Huntington Beach when it breaks, but it won’t cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren’t any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.

The timing belt doesn’t even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.

Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner’s manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles, but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles. If your owner’s manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles, however, don’t wait until 65,000 miles to get it done. Remember what you’re risking.

Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Huntington Beach drivers. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.

For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your friendly Beach Benz service advisor. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.

Huntington Beach Customer Detective Work

One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Beach Benz in Huntington Beach California is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.

Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it’s challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it’s not something obvious, it’s easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.

Let us introduce you to something we’ll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Huntington Beach California technician find clues to what’s wrong.

We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Beach Benz and your car is making a funny sound.

  • Q: Where’s the sound?
  • A: Around the right front wheel.
  • Q: What kind of sound?
  • A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
  • Q: When do you hear the sound?
  • A: When I turn and accelerate.
  • Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…

Do you see where we’re going? You’re gathering additional information to help your Huntington Beach California technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech’s experience, he’ll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.

You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says “making a funny noise”.

When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying “it’s leaking”, tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.

Things like ‘the car is stalling or sputtering’ are often very hard to diagnose because they’re intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren’t happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what’s happening in as much detail as possible.

Your Huntington Beach California technician at Beach Benz will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like ‘it stalls after it’s been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour’.

If the tech can experience the problem personally, he’s better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.