Make an appointment with Cambridge Auto to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around San Antonio Texas who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in San Antonio Texas.
These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.
Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in San Antonio Texas have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.
The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.
It is also called the 'service engine soon' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your San Antonio Texas service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.
If you've searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what's wrong.
That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.
Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads one 102 degrees. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.
An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response'. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.
You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Cambridge Auto invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.
So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked at Cambridge Auto. If the light burns steady – don't panic. Get in to Cambridge Auto soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.
And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing check engine light.
Posted in the Service Standards category
A lot of people get custom wheels in San Antonio. When you do this yourself (over the internet . . .) you could run into trouble if you’re not careful. Sometimes, once they’re mounted, they just don't fit right. The tires rub in turns or on bumps. You don’t want that.
Consulting your Cambridge Auto tire professional can ensure you get the right fit. First he’ll ask you a series of questions about your San Antonio driving needs and what you want in your new wheels. Now, not every wheel can go on every car. Care must be taken so that tires and wheels are not too large or that the wheel is centered too far towards the outside or the inside so the tires rub.
If you don’t want to make any modifications to your sedan, you would need to focus on the wheels that would fit. With trucks, some San Antonio people like much bigger tires so they need a suspension lift.
Also, most San Antonio drivers don’t realize that you need to keep the rolling diameter of your new tires – that’s, like the overall height of the tire – very close to what came from the factory in order for your sedan anti-lock brakes and stability control systems to work properly.
The computers that control these systems are calibrated to a certain size tire. When you go bigger or smaller, the computer doesn’t know what changes you made so it can’t tell how fast you’re going. This, of course, means it sends commands to the brakes and traction control that are based on the wrong speed. If you go with a different rolling diameter, your sedan engine control computer can be reprogrammed for the new tire size.
Either way, there are hundreds of wheel and tire choices to choose from in Texas. You can pick the style of wheel you want and then talk with your friendly Cambridge Auto tire professional about how big the wheel should be – and how to select the right tire for your sedan. Your Cambridge Auto service advisor will help you find the best tire to meet your style, performance, ride and handling needs in San Antonio.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
All new passenger vehicles on our San Antonio Texas roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are under inflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about TPMS.
First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is twenty percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is thirty five pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at twenty eight pounds. That's significantly under-inflated. Enough to raise safety concerns.
The worst is tire failure. A severely under inflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also under-inflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.
What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.
The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a failsafe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.
Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our San Antonio Texas roads can ruin them.
There's also a hassle factor that your San Antonio Texas tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in San Antonio, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.
That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at Cambridge Auto need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.
Also if you add custom wheels on your sedan, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.
All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Boerne car owners only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Boerne. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there’s an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you’re doing.
Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That’s what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on Texas expressways. And automatically shifts back down to climb Boerne hills, pass or start up again.
sedan automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.
At Cambridge Auto, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.
Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.
Not enough fluid can starve the transmission or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission, then the lubricant is blocked and can’t get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at Cambridge Auto see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.
And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any San Antonio service center can be quite costly. That’s why manufacturers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.
It’s really important for Boerne motorists to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.
At Cambridge Auto in San Antonio, we hope you never become shiftless in Boerne because you didn’t take care of your transmission.
Posted in the Transmission category
San Antonio auto owners' current vehicles have over a century of engineering behind them. They have evolved into complex and powerful machines. Developments in their engines, however, have coincided with advances in many other vehicle components, including the fluids.
It’s essential for San Antonio drivers to always use the right type of fluid for their sedan. Your service advisor and your owner’s manual are resources for auto advice on exactly what types of fluid your vehicle needs. Improper fluids can damage your vehicle and void your warranty.
Some of the fluids that have changed significantly in recent years are cooling system fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and motor oil. Each of these comes in many varieties now, and it’s important to know exactly which one your sedan needs.
Cooling systems were once made of iron, steel and rubber. One coolant could be used to protect all of these materials. But new cooling systems have components made from a variety of metal alloys and several kinds of plastic, and coolants now contain additives that protect these various materials from corrosion. Since the materials vary among auto makers, they require different additives, which means there are now a number of coolants on the market. The type of coolant your sedan needs depends on the materials used in its cooling system.
Most vehicles used to require Dot 3 brake fluid. But now many vehicles need Dot 4 or Dot 5. Some San Antonio drivers mistakenly think the higher numbers reflect an increase in grade—that Dot 4 is somehow better than Dot 3. But the truth is, the numbers represent variations in formulation. The different formulas have evolved to meet the demands of newer and better brake systems. For a long time, transmission fluid came in two varieties: regular and friction-modified. But transmissions have come a long way recently, and so have the fluids that protect and lubricate them. There are several new types of fluid on the market, but your sedan is designed for just one of them.
Of all the automotive fluids, motor oils have experienced perhaps the greatest advances in engineering and technology. A number of new weights and formulations have recently been developed to meet the needs of modern engines, which have more parts and tighter tolerances than ever before. Engines have become more sophisticated and complicated, but they have also increased in power and fuel efficiency. Despite these changes, San Antonio auto owners still need them to be highly durable.
That’s the job of motor oil. Motor oil still has to perform its original, vital function—lubricating and protecting the engine. It is formulated to help clean the engine as well. Modern motor oil also has to be thin enough to penetrate small engine passages yet still be resistant to vaporization.
Specialized motor oils have also been developed for high-mileage vehicles. If your sedan has 75,000 miles or more on it, you might consider switching to one of these motor oils. They contain extra detergents that help clean older engines and critical additives that condition seals and gaskets that can become brittle with age. High-mileage motor oils come in weights and types just like regular motor oils, and San Antonio drivers should match the proper weight and type of high-mileage oil to their vehicle in the same way you would regular motor oil.
Over time, vehicles have developed in complexity and variety, and their fluids have developed as well. Each vehicle is matched to a set of fluids that meet its specific requirements. Texas vehicle owners should take care to learn their sedan’s fluid requirements before topping off at home. A large part of preventive maintenance for San Antonio auto owners is making sure your vehicle’s fluids are clean and adequate, but they must be the proper type as well. As our sedans become more sophisticated, car care becomes more sophisticated as well.
Learning about proper fluids for your vehicle will help you maintain its performance and prolong its life. Talk to us at Cambridge Auto in San Antonio.
Posted in the Fluids category
The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some San Antonio drivers and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us San Antonio drivers.
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 key 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 Texas expressway speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your San Antonio service center.
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 Cambridge Auto technician to get it checked out.
Some more San Antonio information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for San Antonio motorists. 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 Cambridge Auto technician 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.
Posted in the Monitoring System category
There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.
Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center at Cambridge Auto can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.
Some of us in San Antonio Texas really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.
But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.
You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our San Antonio Texas roads is over nine years. When cars get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your car'll just run better too.
A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the San Antonio Texas freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.
Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.
The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.
How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your San Antonio Texas service advisor at Cambridge Auto can tell you as well. It's usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.
It's good to know that your San Antonio Texas service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of Cambridge Auto as your ally - and maybe even your memory.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Most San Antonio car owners don't even think about their car air conditioning system unless it fails. That’s because many San Antonio and Kirby motorists don't really understand that auto A/Cs need periodic service. Let me share some of the reasons why they fail.
First, like every machine, the sedan air conditioner parts need - you guessed it - lubrication. The lubricant is actually mixed in with the refrigerant (that’s the stuff that makes the air cool). Remember that even if the air conditioner is still blowing out cool air, the oil that lubricates the parts may be used up: and unlubricated parts can fail in all Texas cars.
Now here’s a tip for San Antonio auto owners: Run your air conditioner every so often during Texas winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.
The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your sedan windshield during Texas winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some San Antonio cars you can’t run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.
Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. San Antonio car owners should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.
San Antonio drivers would be wise to learn the important early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air’s not as cold as it used to be. 2) Unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into Cambridge Auto in San Antonio before the damage gets worse.
By following the recommended service intervals in your sedan owner’s manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some expensive components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Boerne and Kirby car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it.
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
It's important for San Antonio car owners to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold Texas weather. Most San Antonio motorists think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold sedan engine.
However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short San Antonio trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. San Antonio car owners can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the summer and every three months during the winter.
As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your sedan alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.
If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your friendly Cambridge Auto service professional for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your sedan alternator.
Give us a call
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Posted in the Battery category
Hello San Antonio, let's talk about brakes. Braking, as all Texas car owners know, is slowing or stopping your vehicle. As you can imagine, brakes are engineered to work well on a particular vehicle application. For example, you would expect more powerful brakes on a heavy-duty pickup that routinely hauls big loads and pulls trailers, than you would on a compact car. And a Corvette that can go over 180 miles per hour would have much different braking needs than the family mini-van you drive around between San Antonio, San Antonio and all of South Texas.
But the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There’s also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.
Let’s step back. A new sedan or truck rolls off a local San Antonio showroom floor. It has brand new brakes with brand new brake pads. The brake lines and pump are filled with fresh fluid and are completely clean inside. And the tires are brand new, with full tread. It is ready to go.
Naturally, braking power is at its peak performance. Now the miles start to add up on the sedan. San Antonio car owners tend to focus on the brake pads. In the automotive business, the pads, and shoes on drum brakes, are called the friction material. That’s because they provide the friction used to stop the vehicle. The pads are designed to be effective throughout their useful life – it’s not until they are worn so thin as to be out of auto manufacturers' specs that they lose their ability to stop.
The mechanical parts of the brakes have pistons and springs that get quite a workout while breaking. Over many miles around Texas, these wear and get gummed up. They start to lose effectiveness gradually and could even fail - a scary possibility That’s why a regular brake inspection at Cambridge Auto is important for your sedan and your family's safety. At Cambridge Auto we can test the operation of the brakes and see if any parts need cleaning or replacing.
That leads us to brake fluid service at Cambridge Auto. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the sedan fluid system are depleted over time. That and moisture building up in the system reduce the performance of the brake fluid. A brake service at Cambridge Auto cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.
The tires are what connect the sedan to the road. Stopping force all comes down to traction. The better the tires grip the road, the quicker you’ll stop.
This is especially important on wet San Antonio area expressways and surface streets. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. Texas drivers need to understand that they can have brakes that are operating at peak efficiency and yet still be in danger because their tires are worn out.
Posted in the Brakes category