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Category Archives: Diagnostics

Duke's Guide to Vehicle Diagnosis

dukeHey it's Duke and today I am going to guide you about Vehicle Diagnosis the Duke way..... so let's get barkin'!

Modern Los Altos vehicles have several computers on board that control all kinds of things like engine functions, transmission shifts, traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, emissions – and on some vehicles, even steering, braking and the throttle.

Think about that for a minute – things that used to be controlled by simple mechanical connections now have electronic controls that rely on computers, software and sensors. It's no wonder that when something goes wrong with their vehicle it can be pretty complicated for Los Altos drivers to track down the source of the problem.

To help your service advisor at Allied Auto Works figure out what's wrong, your vehicle is equipped with on-board diagnostics. The Check Engine light comes on to tell you there's a problem and the engine management computer stores a trouble code. Your friendly and knowledgeable Allied Auto Works technician connects a scan tool to your vehicle's diagnostic port and retrieves the trouble codes as well as other important data.

Trouble codes are like clues for the technician to follow as he diagnoses what's wrong with your vehicle. In a way, it's like going to your Los Altos doctor with a problem. She'll run some additional tests and gather the information she needs to make a diagnosis and form a treatment plan. How much a vehicle diagnosis costs at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos depends on how much time it takes to sort out the symptoms and find the underlying problem.

Give Allied Auto Works a call today and tell them The Duke was your guide!  duke


Allied Auto Works
650.968.7227
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
http://www.alliedautoworks.com

Categories:

Diagnostics

Cayenne's Diagnosing Your Vehicle With Allied Auto Works

cayHi Cayenne here today and I know when I go to the vet for something that maybe bothering me, they do a series of tests so the vet can correctly diagnose what may be the problem.  Well, it is no different with your car when a problem happens, so today we will bark about diagnosing your vehicle.

When we Los Altos, Cupertino, Sunnyvale or Mountain View residents get a car repair bill, we really shouldn't be surprised to find “diagnostic fees” as one of the line items. When we get a computer fixed, there is usually a charge for the time it takes to diagnose the problem. When we go to a medical doctor, most of his fee is for his ability to diagnose what's wrong. It's no different with our vehicles.

Some diagnoses are fairly simple. Brake repairs at Allied Auto Works usually require only a visual inspection, for instance. But other problems are much more difficult to diagnose. An intermittent engine problem, for example, takes time and expertise to pinpoint.

Modern vehicles have multiple computers that monitor a variety of sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of those sensors has a reading that is higher or lower than the standard parameters, the computer turns on the Check Engine light. Technicians at a service center such as Allied Auto Works in Los Altos can scan the engine's computer for a trouble code. This code tells the technician which reading is too high or too low.

That's where some South Bay residents get confused. They think that this reading concludes the diagnosis, and they don't understand why the diagnostic fee is as much as it is when all the technician did was to scan the computer. But the truth is the trouble code is only the beginning of the diagnostic procedure.

Remember, the trouble code only tells which reading is out of parameter. It doesn't say what is causing the reading to be too high or too low. Your Allied Auto Works service technician still has to find the underlying problem. It's a lot like going to the doctor. He can take your temperature and discover that you have a fever, but that doesn't tell him what is causing your fever.

Automotive diagnostic technology can cut down the time it takes to figure out what's wrong with a vehicle that isn't running right. But it doesn't do away with the need for your friendly and knowledgeable Allied Auto Works service technician to make a proper diagnosis. Car care, like medical care, still requires the human touch.

cayWell like I said, it is like going to the vet or doctor for you humans, you want to make sure that your car is getting the proper car and Allied Auto Works can do that for you.  Til next week, this is Cayenne!

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
http://www.alliedautoworks.com

Categories:

Diagnostics

Cayenne asks "What?s That?" Check Engine Light Service At Allied Auto Works

cay

Yes Cayenne has a question, what is that light? 

Okay. You went to your local Los Altos car wash and while your sedan was under the dryer, the check engine light started flashing. Panic! What did you just do? Something is seriously wrong with the sedan! You head for the nearest Los Altos service station, but on the way, the check engine light stops flashing, and just glows red. Hmm. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. You decide to wait until payday to take your sedan in to get serviced. In the meantime, the check engine light goes off. What? You decide the light must be faulty, or that when it comes on it doesn’t mean anything, or that it’s just in your sedan as some sort of scam to get you to pay for unnecessary pricey repairs. You’re glad you didn’t take your car to the Los Altos repair shop and resolve to ignore that engine light in the future.

Whoa! Let’s look at what really happened. Your sedan was under an air dryer. Your air intake sensor measured too much air running through the engine. It sent its report to the engine computer, where a warning was triggered: there shouldn’t be that much airflow when the sedan engine is idling. This is a serious problem that could cause permanent engine damage. Warning! The check engine light starts flashing, letting you know you need to take immediate action to prevent that damage.

You drive out from under the dryer, and the air intake sensor sends a new message to the computer. The computer realizes that everything is normal and tells the check engine light to stop flashing. The sedan doesn’t need immediate attention; but there was a problem, and it should be checked out by your service professional. After a few days the computer senses that the problem is gone, so it turns off the warning light.

You may think this story illustrates the uselessness of a check engine light, but you should remember that a computer can’t think for itself, it can only follow its programming. It doesn’t know the difference between a car wash air dryer and a serious malfunction in your sedan engine. That doesn’t make it useless. It just means you have to be the smart one.

Being smart doesn’t mean ignoring your sedan check engine light. It lets you know when something is wrong, and you can prevent a lot of damage to your vehicle by paying proper attention to it.

Your engine computer is constantly collecting data about what is going on inside your sedan engine. It knows what parameters are normal, and when a reading may indicate a problem. It uses the check engine light to let you know when something isn’t right. It then stores a code in its memory that a technician can retrieve that indicates which reading was abnormal.

The technician uses this code as a starting place to find out what’s wrong with your sedan. It’s like going to the doctor with a fever. The fever is the reading that is abnormal — your temperature is too high — but the doctor still has to figure out what’s causing it. It’s probably an infection, but what kind? Sinus infection? Appendicitis? Flu? The problems and their solutions are quite different. But a fever also tells a doctor what’s NOT wrong with you. Fevers don’t accompany stress headaches, ulcers or arthritis, so there’s no sense in testing for those conditions.

Your Los Altos technician responds to a trouble code in your sedan’s computer in the same way. The code doesn’t say exactly what’s wrong, but it does give the technician a good indication of where to start looking —and where he/she doesn’t need to look.

Now, you wouldn’t consider diagnosing yourself with a serious medical problem; good medical advice — unless you’re a doctor. So you shouldn’t consider trying to diagnose your vehicle’s troubles by yourself; good auto advice — unless you’re a trained mechanic.

There are cheap scanners available on the market and some Los Altos auto parts stores offer to read trouble codes from your sedan engine computer for you, but these are really not good alternatives to taking your vehicle to a qualified service center such as Allied Auto Works in Los Altos. Your engine’s computer has both short-term and long-term memory, and there are some codes that are specific to a particular make of vehicle. Cheap scanners can’t read an engine computer’s long-term memory nor can they interpret manufacturer - specific codes. That’s why manager Brian Aberg at Allied Auto Works spends a lot of money on high-end diagnostic tools.

It’s as if you had a choice between a doctor who had a tongue depressor and a thermometer and one who had all the latest medical diagnostic equipment on hand. Honestly, which would you choose?

Getting your codes read at your Los Altos auto parts store isn’t really a money-saver, either, unless you’re a trained mechanic. You’ll end up with a code that tells you a symptom. What usually happens next is that the Los Altos parts store sells you something that directly relates to the symptom. It may or may not fix the problem. It’s actually cheaper to just go to the Allied Auto Works in Los Altos and get things fixed right the first time.

Remember, a fever can indicate a sinus infection or appendicitis. An antibiotic may be okay for that sinus infection, but it won’t help your appendicitis. Is it really wise to wait around to see if the antibiotic helps when you might have appendicitis?

Part of good car care is knowing where you can get a problem fixed, and fixed right. Preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping you out of the repair shop, but eventually, we will all have a problem that needs fixing. Let’s do it right the first time at Allied Auto Works. In the long run, it’s actually the less pricey choice.

Well I hope I answer that mystery questions we all have when the check engine light comes, including myself.  At least I know it does not mean I am out of dog treats!

Cayenne, til next week

 

 

Categories:

Diagnostics

Detective Cayenne: Automotive Work In Los Altos

 

cay

Detective Cayenne here and we are going to diagnose today,

There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Los Altos. Figuring out what’s wrong with your sedan has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your sedan’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Los Altos motorists because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Los Altos doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Los Altos drivers can do a lot to help out their personal and trust Allied Auto Works technician in figuring out what’s wrong with their sedan. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Los Altos service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Los Altos service professional.

If fluid is leaking from your sedan, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your sedan is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Allied Auto Works tech, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your sedan’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Los Altos drivers.

If your sedan is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your tech often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your personal and trust tech to get your sedan to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Los Altos and then get it fixed.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Los Altos repair shop, but if you need to get it corrected, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

 

Detective Cayenne signing out, good day.

Categories:

Diagnostics
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