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Here are some helpful articles to help you prolong the life of your car or truck. Just click the links below to jump down the page to each article!



Don't hit the panic button, but don't ignore it either.

It's a small rectangle hidden among the gauges clustered on the instrument panel behind the steering wheel. It flashes briefly when you turn the ignition on-- along with other system checks like anti-lock brakes - to let you know the system is ready to do it's prescribed job.

After briefly flashing at startup indicating all is well, it is blank and dormant as you drive happily on your way.  Then one day, inexplicably, it glows yellow and warns “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” or displays a yellow engine symbol.

What do you check and why?  The engine often shows no obvious signs of anything except running down the road in quiet contentment.

When the onboard diagnostic system determines that a problem exists, the computer illuminates the yellow dashboard indicator.  This light serves to inform the driver that a problem has been detected and vehicle service is needed.

Onboard diagnostics assess engine misfire situations, the most severe of which indicates the possibility of catalytic converter damage.  When this occurs, the yellow light will blink on and off repeatedly.

Don’t hit the panic button and stop the car when the yellow message starts flashing.  However it is important to reduce the speed of the vehicle, and take it for service as soon as possible.  The vehicle should not be driven for long distances with the light flashing.

The system is also continuously checking information from the engine and transmission sensors against data stored in its memory.  When one of the hundreds of possible faults is found, the yellow indicator comes on and stays on.  This can mean many things, from a sensor fault to a fouled sparkplug.

The continuous light tells the driver that something is wrong, and to bring the vehicle in for service.  This is not an emergency situation, however, don’t drive for more than a few days with the light on.

The glitches that activate the “Check Engine” light are often nothing a driver can readily detect, but that doesn’t mean everything is working properly.  There can be a condition that wastes fuel, shortens engine life, or could lead to expensive repairs if left unaddressed.  And, since the condition is usually emission related, the level of pollutants coming from the tailpipe can soar.

So if the “Check Engine” light comes on, don’t hit the panic button, but don’t ignore it either.  Call your friends at Precision Auto Repair, (760) 951-7200.


Hot weather can be rough on cars. Higher temperatures speed up a car’s wear and tear, as fluids and lubricants break down more quickly. But by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule (see your car’s owner’s manual) and taking the following precautions, your car will be ready for a long, hot summer:

  • Consider a pre-trip inspection by a qualified technician before you leave. Repairs made on the road may be more costly, and disrupt your vacation plans.

  • Operationally, check the air conditioning, and inspect the belts and hoses. You may want to have a service professional inspect the entire system.

  • Inspect batteries and battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt. Hot weather can shorten a battery’s life, so have it tested if it’s near the end of its warranty. It’s a lot easier to replace a dying battery before a trip than replace a dead one on the side of the road.

  • Have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear.

  • Change the engine oil and filter according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. The service technician should also check the coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper and power steering fluids.

  • Replace ragged wiper blades.

  • Check the air pressure in all tires, including the spare, to make sure they are properly inflated. Uneven or excessive treadwear are signs that it may be time for rotation or even replacement.

  • Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including turn signals and high beams, to make sure they work. This is also a good time to clean the lenses to get maximum visibility.

  • Change your car’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. A dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.

  • A service professional should inspect the radiator pressure cap, belts and hoses. Flush and refill the cooling system according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. This service should include replacement of the pressure cap.

  • Check engine light. Never leave on a long trip with your car’s “check engine light” or “malfunction indicator light” lit up. This light alerts you to a malfunction if it’s on while driving your car. If this light is on, have the problem diagnosed by a qualified technician before you leave.



Although you may want to get rid of your present vehicle in favor of a new car, taking better care of your current set of wheels may make much more sense in the long run- helping you achieve a goal of financial freedom.

“We advise our clients that if they want a 10 percent increase on their investments every year, they need to cut down on their expenses,” and Terry Mulcahy, Vice President of Investments for R.W. Baird.

“A new automobile is, for most people, their second biggest investment next to a home, so a great way to save money and increase financial assets is to hang onto their current vehicle rather than buy a new one every few years.  Budgeting for and doing preventative maintenance on your car is one of the best ways to cut your costs and keep your car.”

The Car Care Council estimates that more than $60 billion in vehicle maintenance and repair is not performed every year, evidence that there is considerably more that consumers should be doing to protect their automotive investments.

“Whether it’s an oil change, replacing brakes or new belts and hoses, that periodic repair bill is a drop in the bucket compared to monthly payments on a new car,” said Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council.  “The bottom line is that a properly maintained vehicle is safe, more dependable, more fuel efficient, less polluting and more valuable.  The smartest way to get a solid return on investment is to keep your car through what we call the ‘Cinderella Era’.  It’s that period of time after the payoff when your car is still in great shape and needs only modest repairs.”

Figures from the Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm that measures travel and living costs, confirms the Council’s claims.  Recent figures from a Ruinzheimer study show that trading a vehicle every eight years instead of every four can save more than $2481.75 a year after the payoff.  That includes repairs and maintenance, license, registration, taxes and insurance.


Fight skyrocketing gas prices by taking control of your vehicle’s unnecessary fuel consumption, advises the Car Care Council.  Consumers can add miles to every gallon they pump by following a few easy and inexpensive maintenance steps with their car, SUV, minivan or pickup truck.

“Most motorists don’t realize that it’s the little things that don’t take a lot of time or cost much that can really make a difference when it comes to saving money at the pump,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.  “Loose or missing gas caps, under-inflated tires, worn spark plugs and dirty air filters all contribute to poor fuel economy.”

The Car Care Council offers gas saving maintenance and driving tips that really work:

  • Vehicle gas caps – about 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
  • Under-inflated tires – When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
  • Worn spark plugs – A vehicle can have either four, six, or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion.  A worn sparkplug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel.  Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.
  • Dirty air filters – an air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power.  Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon.
  • “Service Engine” light on – a yellow light illuminated on your dash, sometimes “Check Engine” or an engine symbol, means that the vehicle computer system has detected a fault that is related to emissions and possibly fuel economy.  Professional diagnostics will reveal the causes of this concern.

Fuel-saving driving tips include:

  • Don’t be an aggressive driver – Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 7 to 49 cents per gallon.
  • Avoid excessive idling – Idling gets zero miles per gallon.  Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
  • Observe the speed limit – Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.  Each mph driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon.  To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.
  • Combining errands into one trip saves gas and time.  Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance.
  • Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the truck.  An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.


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