Category Archives: Maintenance Monday

The 5 most common causes of a check engine light!

check engine light dashboard

The other day I had an interesting run-in with my car, I was driving home when out of the blue my “Check Engine” light came on. So, first after getting my heart rate down I thought “wait my car is 4 years old it has nothing wrong with it, there has to be a simple reason for this” and there was. My gas cap wasn’t tightened all the way… “D’oh!”

So, the light is on and I pull into my driveway, I stop the car, for all you safety-nicks out there I turned it off, and did the first thing we all do in situations like this, I did a Google search. “Common causes for the check engine light to go off” and I found my problem, apparently not tightening the gas cap all the way is more common than you would think. I tightened it and viola! No more check engine light. So that got me thinking what other reasons are there for this to happen, here is the top 5, in no particular order:

there is no reason to panic or think the worst just go through the list and if it still won’t go off bring it in to Koons and we’ll help you get back on the road

We do have one caveat, if your car starts smoking or stalls completely call for help and stay with your vehicle until it arrives. Once you’re safely off the road, bring your car to the closest Koons store (there are 22 of them) and have them run a diagnostic to find the cause. You can call ahead to make sure they can handle your make and model, since some cars have special computers. But once you’re at the store, you’ll be in good hands and your vehicle will be back up and running in no time.

One: Replace Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is a part that monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust. It helps monitor how much fuel is burned. A faulty sensor means it’s not providing the right data to the computer and causes a decrease in gas mileage. Most cars have between two and four oxygen sensors and the code you get from the scanner will tell you which one needs replacing.

Causes: Over time, the sensor gets covered in oil ash and it reduces the sensors ability to change the oxygen and fuel mixture. A faulty sensor not only reduces gas mileage, it also increase emissions.

What you should do: Not replacing a broken oxygen sensor can eventually lead to a faulty catalytic convertor, which can be expensive to replace. An oxygen sensor is easy to replace on many cars and is usually detailed in the owner’s manual. If you know where the sensor is, you only have to unclip the old sensor and replace it with a new one.

Two: Loose or Faulty Gas Cap

You wouldn’t think a gas cap would be that important, but it is. When it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can throw the whole fuel system off. This causes a reduction in gas mileage and increases emissions.

What causes it: If you get an error pointing to the gas cap it means fuel vapors are leaking out of your cap. This means the cap is either cracked or just wasn’t tightened well enough.

What you should do: If your car isn’t feeling jerky or strange when the check engine light comes on the first thing you should check is the gas cap. Pull over, open the access cover and remove it, take a look at the cap to see if it has any cracks or holes in it. If not replace it and tighten it down all the way and continue driving to see if the check engine light turns off.

Three: Replace Catalytic Convertor

The catalytic convertor works to reduce exhaust gases. It converts carbon monoxide and other harmful materials into harmless compounds. If your catalytic convertor is failing, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage or your car won’t go any faster when you push the gas.

What causes it: Catalytic convertors shouldn’t fail if you’re keeping up on regular maintenance. The main cause of failure is related to other items on this list, including a broken oxygen sensor or deteriorated spark plugs. When it fails, it stops converting carbon monoxide into less harmful emissions.

What you should do: If your catalytic convertor fails completely, you eventually won’t be able to keep the car running. Your gas mileage will be terrible, so you should try and fix it as soon as you can. This is not an easy fix so you will need to have a professional take care and in most areas it will be part of an emissions inspection so it’s just better to have it done at a garage.

Four: Replace Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The mass airflow sensor tells the car’s computer to add the proper amount of fuel based on the air coming through to the engine. A faulty one can increase emissions, cause the car to stall, and decrease gas mileage.

What causes it: Most mass airflow sensors fail because of a improperly installed (or never replaced) air filter. You should replace the air filter at least once a year to help prevent the airflow sensor from failing.

What you should do: Theoretically you can drive for a few weeks or even months with a broken MAF sensor. You will notice a decrease in gas mileage and over time the car will eventually start stalling a lot. It’s not terribly difficult to do on your own, but the process is quick enough you may want to let a mechanic handle it when you have a tune-up.

Five: Replace Spark Plugs and Wires

The spark plug seals the combustion chamber and provides a gap for a spark to jump across and initiates combustion in your engine. When the plugs are failing, the spark plugs misfire. You’ll feel a little jolt in your car’s acceleration when this happens.

What causes it: Most spark plugs and their wires in cars from before 1996 should be replaced every 25,000-30,000 miles. Newer ones can last up to 100,000 miles. Still, plugs can fail over time and so can the wires and there’s not much you can do to stop it once it starts.

What you should do: Get them replaced right away. It’s easy and cheap and your car will run better for it. Since this is part of your vehicles regular maintenance, the Koons Tech will tell you when they should be replaced when you bring it in for regular maintenance. The plugs and their wires are usually easily accessible from the hood of the car. It’s simple fix but it is a dirty one so be prepared to get your hands dirty on this one if you decide to do it yourself.

There are plenty of other possibilities that a check engine light can come on, but the five listed here are the most common. So there is no reason to panic or think the worst just go through the list and if it still won’t go off bring it in to Koons and we’ll help you get back on the road with the piece of mind that your car should be issue free. 

A/C System Service in April. Yes, You Read That Right!

A/C System neededRepeat after me: It’s going to be warm soon, it’s going to be warm soon, it’s going to be warm soon.  Good, now that we all believe that fact, even while there is still snow on the ground, let’s talk about your vehicle’s A/C system. Eventually, I promise, you will need it in the next coming months!

if you just want to be extra sure your A/C system is working properly and ready to handle the summer months, log onto koons.com

The A/C System in your vehicle relies on many important components to run properly and remove the heat from your cars interior, allowing you to ride cool comfortably.  The key components of the A/C system in your car include a compressor, evaporator, pressurized refrigerant, valves and hoses, all of which are controlled electronically.  In order to work properly your A/C system needs to be free from leaks and contamination.  A common cause for inadequate cooling is when the refrigerant leaks through worn seals and O-rings.

There are a few warning signs you can look out for to make sure you’re A/C system is working properly:

  • Your A/C system doesn’t cool properly
  • The fan/blower doesn’t work when set in A/C mode
  • Loud noises when you turn on your A/C
  • Your vehicle stalls or idles roughly when you turn on the A/C
  • Your vehicle runs hot or overheats when you use the A/C
  • Some or all of the dash controls don’t work when you try to use them
  • Your heater, top and side vents, or de-froster doesn’t work
  • Water on your vehicle’s floor mats or carpeting
  • Unusual odors from interior vents

Your cars A/C is something that is easy to forget about, especially when you’re in the middle of freak snow storms but it’s only a matter of days before the temperature starts to to hit the 90’s.  If your A/C has any of the above issues, or if you just want to be extra sure your A/C system is working properly and ready to handle the summer months, log onto koons.com and schedule an appointment with your nearest dealership. 

 

 

Should I Clean my Car Before Trading It in?

Clean my car or not to clean my car

Let’s get right down to it: To clean my car, or not to clean my car… right? That is the question. If you clean your car before you trade it in you may see more of the dings and scratches.  But if you don’t, all you’ll do is stave off the inevitable, the technician eventually sees all of the dents and scratches and then you’ll look like you have something to hide.

If you are a smoker, you may want to spend some extra cash and take some extra time to eliminate the smell of smoke from the interior

Why go into the sale of your car with doubt surrounding you?  Some people think, “Why should I clean my car? It’s old and used and it’s not like I am going to get more for it, right?”  That is not necessarily true. In fact, studies have shown that a salesman will consider giving you more money for a trade-in if you take the time to clean it beforehand. By having your car detailed inside and out, you show the car dealer that you’re serious about getting a good deal and that you have nothing to hide.  Don’t get me wrong, other items do factor in to getting the right price for your car, but cleaning it is one thing that will definitely help.

The 5-Points to Clean Car Nirvana:

  1. Walk around your car before trading it in and think about the first impression it will make when a dealer takes a look at it. As you walk around your car, take note of the biggest problems that may leap out at you. Did you notice it the car had worn tires, filthy rims, torn upholstery or minor dents and scratches? Whatever you notice first will be the same things the dealer notices, so fix these items.
  2. Remove all the personal items from your car before trading it in. This will make it easier for the dealer to visualize how your trade-in will be sold. If it’s clean and uncluttered with car seats, garbage, and loose debris they will be able to see its value easier.  Make sure you remove window clings, decals, and bumper stickers. Clean the trunk and glove box as well.
  3. Have the car detailed inside and out before trading it in. A clean car shows the dealer that you took care of it, and it’s less likely that you’re hiding problems. Have the carpeting and upholstery shampooed, the wheels and tires cleaned, and dust and grime removed from the nooks and crannies in the dashboard.
  4. Repair any minor dents or scratches. All dealers deduct money on your trade-in value for these.  You can very easily have these items fixed in advance at a local body shop or with a good buffing.
  5. Take your car in for service and maintenance before trading it in. By having the oil changed and the fluids filled, you’re showing the dealer that you cared about the engine, and that it’s in excellent condition. Steam cleaning the engine compartment is also a good idea.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are a smoker, you may want to spend some extra cash and take some extra time to eliminate the smell of smoke from the interior through the use of ozone treatments, deodorizers and disinfectants.

Most importantly, bring your car to a reputable dealership like Koons for a no pressure fair evaluation of its trade-in value.  We love cars and we love giving our customers the best service and pricing around, you can trust our pricing and our advice and you know when you drive away from the sale that you got the best deal in town. ♛

 

 

 

What Happens to Old Oil After a Tune-up?

Changing Your Engine Oil Depends On Your Driving: Normal Or SevereDid you ever wonder what happens to all of that oil that gets changed? There is literally barrels of the stuff that flows out of car engines every day at our Koons Service Shops.  So much oil that we thought we would look to see what happens to it.  Here is a response from the American Petroleum Institute.

We are all familiar with recycling newspapers, aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles, but you may not be aware of the efforts of the petroleum industry and other groups to promote used motor oil recycling: providing convenient collection sites for the purpose of keeping used motor oil out of our waterways and ground water supplies and getting used oil into the recycling system.

There are many practical uses for used motor oil. A primary use is to re-refine it into a base stock for lubricating oil. This process is very similar to the refining of crude oil. The result is that the re-refined oil is of as high a quality as a virgin oil product. In fact, re-refining used oil takes from 50 to 85 percent less energy than refining crude oil.

A secondary use of the used oil is to burn it for energy. Large industrial boilers can efficiently burn the used oil with minimum pollution. As a result some used oil is sent to power plants or cement kilns to be burned as fuel. On a smaller scale small quantities of used oil are burned in specially designed heaters to provide space heating for small businesses.

So the next time you bring your car in, new or used, to get a tune-up and oil change you’ll know that your helping your vehicle and the environment as well. ♛

 

 

Why factory recommended services are better than just oil changes…

engines and oil, a guide to why getting your oil change at the dealership is for the best

Getting your oil changed regularly is important, very important.  Without oil your car will die.  Oil allows for your engines metal parts to press against each other without causing damage.  Not getting your oil changed can be just as harmful as not having any oil, because dirty oil becomes thick and collects microscopic dirt and metal shavings that are abrasive and that’s what causes engine wear.

I know what you’re thinking, of course they want us to follow their schedules because it’s to their advantage.  It’s really to your advantage and your cars.

The old conventional thinking of getting your oil changed every 3 months or 3,000 miles is a thing of the past.  Car Manufactures know their vehicles power plants inside and out, they’ve created engineering masterpieces that adhere to high tolerances and output incredible power.  But there is a trade off with these engineering marvels, they demand consistent attention in order for them to preform at their best.  To aid in that effort the manufacturers created recommended maintenance schedules that support that consistency and help to: extend the life of your vehicle, prevent high-cost auto repairs, and keep it running at its optimal best.  You, the vehicle owner, are the beneficiary of all of that new technology and planning, you get all the power that these higher tolerances yield, along with the benefit of owning an engine that has a much longer life, more residual value, and is easier to maintain, provided you follow the manufacturers maintenance schedule.

I know what you’re thinking, of course they want us to follow their schedules because it’s to their advantage.  It’s really to your advantage and your cars.  Things have changed, with the introduction of these better engines, better service and maintenance has also been developed, better because its less expensive, more intuitive, and better integrated.  Wouldn’t you want to take advantage of all of that?  You can by seeing a registered trained technician at your dealership.

With the emergence of better technology and Synthetic oils cars can now sometimes go as long as 5,000 to 10,000 miles without getting their oil being changed (each car is different please consult your Vehicles Maintenance Guide).  By coming in to the dealership for recommended service you get access to all of their diagnostic and maintenance options and you also get piece of mind.  You can be certain that the right parts, consumables, and training are being applied to your vehicle.  Small things like regular tire rotations for even tire wear, topping off fluid levels, or filter replacement are now expected with any regular maintenance.  But while they’re taking care of those regular items technicians are also hooking up your vehicle so they can talk with your engine using manufacturer developed proprietary software, this allows them to head off developing issues before they become a major problem.

So as you can see, a simple oil change doesn’t cover all of the items your vehicle needs in order to run for years to come.  It does go a long way to keeping your car on the road, but keeping it in top form requires a bit more.   With advancements in technology, training, better parts, more intuitive diagnostics, and by following your vehicles Factory Recommended Maintenance Schedule you are helping maintain your vehicle for years to come.  Koons has a whole army of trained and dedicated vehicle technicians to make sure that your car is always running at its best.  ♛