Why You Should Always Use Your Parking Brake

Let’s get one misconception out of the way, the parking brake isn’t only used for parking on hills.

What’s the purpose of the parking brake, how does it work?

Think of your parking brake as a clamp for your wheels. This system protects your vehicle by bypassing the hydraulic braking system ensuring that the vehicle will stop in an emergency or keep it in place while parked.

Most vehicles today are built with an automatic transmission. When in park, the “parking pawl” engages inside the transmission restricting the movement of the transmission. While not a common occurrence, this “pawl” can break or become dislodged, causing the vehicle to roll away.

When used correctly, the parking brake helps relieve stress and tension on the transmission and other drive components.

With a manual transmission, the parking brake is even more essential. Leaving a car in gear does not lock the transmission, only makes it harder to move.

With both transmission types, the parking brake is your added security against catastrophic failures. Additionally, if your vehicle is struck while in park, your parking brake will keep the vehicle from rolling away.

The parking brake is called a parking brake for a reason; you should always use it. To set it correctly, you should set the brake while your foot is still on the brake pedal. This will reduce the stress on the parking pawl.

Always remember to disengage prior to driving. driving with the parking brake on can reduce the effectiveness of the braking system.

If you feel your parking brake is not working correctly or if you’d driven with your parking brake on for a long period of time, contact us to have it inspected.

Check Engine Light, Is It Important?

When your check engine light comes on, don’t ignore it.

We’ve all seen the instant glow of the check engine light come on in our dashboard when driving down the road. Instantly you feel this pit in your stomach and think the worst, a costly repair that you’re not ready to make. What most vehicle owners fail to recognize it the check engine light is a warning system notifying you that your cars computer has detected a problem. There are a number of things that can trigger this warning from minor to major problems. These include but are not limited to:

  • Loose gas capcheck engine light poway
  • Emission related components
  • Faulty sensors
  • Engine Misfires
  • Transmission related faults
  • Worn out spark plugs and wiring
  • Catalytic converter failure
  • Thermostat

While the check engine is simply a warning system of a failure with one component of your vehicle, don’t ignore it thinking it will result in a costly repair. When you bring your vehicle to our location we will have an ASE certified technician connect the car to our advanced diagnostic equipment which will read the cars computer to assist in leading us to discover why the check engine light came on. Often times we find it to be something minor and in the case of it being a result of a major issue, it’s best to find out before you do more damage to your vehicle by driving around with the check engine light on.

Proper Break In Period After Brake Job

When someone talks about break in period for vehicles, you may think about the break in period for new vehicles. Remember when you purchased a new vehicle and they told you not to go over 65 for the first 500 miles? While you don’t have to do this with today’s engines, you do want to slowly break in your brake pads just after you have them preplaced. It’s important to remember that as with any new part on your vehicle, give it time to adjust to your driving style.

When brake pads and rotors are replaced, this is the first time the pads are touching metal. While we properly road test your vehicle and follow our break in routine of driving and stopping, it’s still important that you continue to break in the pads. We will ensure the brakes are functioning properly before we allow you to take your vehicle and using your brakes conservatively allows for the break pad material to conform to the rotor ensuring that you have an even surface to surface wear.

Remember, if you feel your brakes are not operating correctly, bring your car immediately to your mechanic and have them perform a road test on the vehicle.

Brake Jobs, Why It’s Important To Resurface Rotors

Keep this in mind next time you have your brakes done.

As vehicle owners we understand the importance of brakes. Often an afterthought until you find yourself in situation where you need to stop immediately, a car in front of you brakes unexpectedly, an animal or person steps into the vehicle lane or a myriad of other scenarios. In any scenario, properly functioning brakes can save you from an untimely accident.

When you think of brakes, most vehicle owners think of new brake pads and that’s it. In reality there are other components that are just as important. Proper brake fluid levels and functioning master cylinder allow the fluid to squeeze the brake pads with enough pressure to stop the vehicle. Brake rotors need to be properly surfaced so as the brake pad presses against it, there is even connection between the pad and rotor.

When you have your brakes replaced, it’s important that your mechanic checks your brake rotors and resurfaces them correctly. If not resurfaced correctly, you can find that your pads will wear uneven causing the brake pad life to lessen and jeopardize the safety of your vehicle. If your rotors are uneven, hotspots develop due to the inconsistency of the pad touching the rotor, this also causes braking time to be extended meaning when you apply your brakes at any level of force, it will take longer to stop your vehicle.

Next time you need to replace your brakes, remember to ask your mechanic if the rotors need to be resurfaced. Proper pads, rotors, fluid and master cylinder working together can make the difference in stopping your vehicle when it matters most.

If you have questions about your brakes, contact us.

Why Import Auto Experts?

bmw-closeupYour choices for auto repair shops in Poway are many.

Poway Import Auto Experts specializes in automotive repairs and services for most foreign and domestic car makes.

At Poway Imports, we realize that our customers want great deals, great services, and great quality of work. Though there are other choices around, we strive to offer the best of all worlds to all of our customers.

Poway Imports is owned by Eli Laow, who grew up in the Poway area. After graduating from Poway High School, Eli spent 13 years working in and learning about the auto repair industry.

Showing incredible proficiency in the trade and gaining many loyal customers (who followed him to different businesses around San Diego and Poway), Eli was a rising star among mechanics.

He decided to buy his own shop where he could make his own rules and treat customers the right way every time. After buying Poway Import Auto Experts, Eli found himself in a great position to continue honing his skills, learning new techniques, and utilizing new technology to give his customers the best possible auto repair experience.

Being a locally owned and operated business, Poway Imports puts everything on the line for every customer that walks through our doors. Our reputation and our integrity is held up by nothing but ourselves, and we know how important it is to keep our customers’ trust.

Loyal customers and new customers alike will tell you that Eli puts customer service first. It’s a top priority for all of us here—we try our hardest to give the Poway community a good name.

Eli keeps the shop stocked with everything the technicians here need to give our customers the best possible experience. We use the same factory diagnostic equipment as the big dealers like GM, Ford, BMW, and Mercedes.

We also stand behind all of the work that we do. At the end of the day, promises mean nothing if the quality of your work is not up to snuff. We work hard and stand behind everything we do with our 1 year / 12,000 mile warranty.

If you’re looking for a committed, hard-working auto repair expert in the Poway area, give us a call today.

What to be aware of when recharging an A/C system

BMW Technician PowayHas your vehicle’s A/C system stopped cooling properly?

Now that we’re well into summer, most of us are putting our cars’ air conditioning systems to the test.

With increased usage comes the increased chance of a system failure, for one reason or another.

There are a number of things that could go wrong with you’re A/C, but one of the most common is that it needs to be recharged.

Recharging your A/C is a relatively simple process, but should be performed by an automotive technician due to strict guidelines laid out by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (or BAR). The BAR’s guidelines are based on regulatory programs of the EPA and detail how to properly test, evacuate, and charge a vehicle’s A/C system.

The best thing you can do for your safety and for the health of your car is make sure that your technician abides by these guidelines. Don’t be afraid to ask the technician directly about the BAR guidelines—it’s important that they’re followed.

A good way to know if a technician is up to snuff is to find out whether or not they are ASE certified. ASE certification comes from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, which has been improving the quality of vehicle repair for decades. If a technician is ASE certified, you can trust they know what they’re doing and are following all necessary guidelines.

There are a few other things to be aware of when you get your A/C system charged. Is your technician using proper charging equipment or just a gauge and a can? Are they changing the Schrader valves? Are they checking the entire A/C system for leaks or failures? Do they check both the low and high side PSI? Improper PSI on the low or high side will result in inefficient A/C operation—a common mistake among poorly trained techs.

There are many parts that make up a vehicle’s A/C system. If even one part is compromised, it could mean that you’ll end up stuck in traffic in the baking sun. Keep yourself safe and comfortable and go with a vehicle repair technician that knows all of the intricacies of the system. Poway Imports technicians are ASE certified and have been trained to use certified equipment to properly test, evacuate, and charge your A/C system.

Imitation Parts

When it comes to automotive parts and repairs, there really are deals that are too good to be true. While it’s true that the auto maintenance and repair industry is highly competitive and businesses will do what they can to satisfy their customers, huge discrepancies between prices for the same engine part should be a red flag for everyone. Often, a hugely discounted part isn’t exactly what it seems to be. These parts are usually made out of the country, and are designed to imitate a product that the consumer already trusts. With improvements to manufacturing processes over the years, these fake parts have become more and more prevalent across the U.S.

While fake parts may seem to be saving you money in the short-term, you can rest assured that they will only cost you more than you bargained for in the end. Since these parts aren’t specially designed or manufactured to work with your vehicle, they often don’t hold up as long as higher quality parts do. They’re also not subjected to the rigorous quality control of the real deal, and are therefore more prone to being completely worthless right out of the box. They can end up doing far more harm to your vehicle, as well, causing accelerated damage to other systems in your engine. You’ll end up having to buy the same part again, on top of whatever other damage it has caused your vehicle.

It’s actually very difficult to determine if a part is imitation. If you’re having the part installed by a professional, make sure you ask to see the packaging for the product. These fake parts often have packaging which imitates a trusted, well-established brand (something that’s illegal, in and of itself). The packaging could be so similar that you don’t realize the difference. That’s exactly what they’re counting on. Look closely for telling details, like misspelled words and brand names and colors that don’t seem quite right. Again, one of the most effective ways to determine a product’s legitimacy is to compare its price. If a store is selling a product at a huge discount compared to other local stores, you should be extremely wary and do everything you can to determine whether or not the product is genuine.

We take this issue very seriously and we urge our customers to do the same. This isn’t just about ensuring that you’re getting the product you wanted, it’s about the general trust of consumers in the auto repair industry and, most importantly, your safety. Low quality counterfeit products do not keep people safe, they damage trust between mechanics and their customers, and they’re terrible for the long-term health of vehicles. These products are not good for anyone except the people who make them. Make sure you know exactly what it is that you’re buying or having installed in your vehicle!

The Importance of Regular Vehicle Maintenance

When it comes to keeping up with regular car maintenance, there are, realistically, three kinds of people. The first kind doesn’t really keep up with maintenance at all. When things start to go wrong, they’ll spend the money necessary to get their car running again then wait until the next issue. The second kind treats their vehicles very well. They keep up with all the necessary maintenance and will catch problems before they become big problems. The third kind doesn’t have any big investment in the condition of their car because they trade in their vehicles every 3 or 4 years, once they realize it isn’t running as well as it used to.

We cannot stress enough that, while it might seem like you’re saving money by not maintaining your vehicle’s health, you’re really just setting yourself up to spend larger amounts of money in shorter periods of time later on. Vehicles have lots of moving parts. Whether we want to believe it or not, every time we drive our cars we cause just a little more wear and tear on those parts. Eventually, if not addressed early on, one or more of those parts will cease to function properly.

The cost to replace or repair those parts will outweigh the costs of regular maintenance. Guaranteed. Many people don’t seem to realize this. It helps to compare a vehicle’s health to a person’s health. Over the course of a lifetime, a person will spend much, much more money if they neglect health issues to the point of needing major surgeries. It’s much better to just do a regular checkup with your doctor! And, to be honest, repairs are hard work! We would much rather do all of the regular maintenance for a vehicle over its lifetime than have to ever repair its transmission. That way, you don’t have to ever deal with the stress of that kind of situation and everyone is happier. On top of that, regular maintenance ensures that your vehicle will be worth substantially more when it comes time to sell or trade it.

Some of the missed regular maintenance for vehicles comes from general misinformation or lack of knowledge about when maintenance is actually necessary. For example, you should never believe the phrase “lifetime transmission fluid.” What this really means is “the life of the fluid until the transmission goes bad.” Realistically, you should have your transmission fluid serviced once every 15,000 to 20,000 miles for the best transmission lifetime. Up to 30,000 miles isn’t bad, but when manufacturers start talking about 80,000 to 100,000 miles, you know that something isn’t right. Oil changes are another subject for which there seems to be a lot of confusion. Check out our <link to oil change blog> for tips on proper oil change maintenance.

No matter how long you plan to keep your current vehicle, regular maintenance is a must. In the end, you’ll save yourself tons of time, frustration, and money if you keep your vehicle in good condition. Do some research and talk to your mechanic to determine what your vehicle needs serviced and when. Remember, the highest priority is always keeping yourself and your passengers safe.

When to Change Your Oil

Motor Oil Changes PowayThe oil change: the quintessential car maintenance task. Everyone who owns a car knows something about how changing their vehicle’s oil helps keep the thing running. But just how essential is this piece of maintenance? There seems to be a lot of varying information on what should be one of the simplest regular vehicle maintenance tasks. Because of this, confusion runs rampant surrounding this topic and many different questions arise. When should I really change my oil? Is it actually important to change my oil? I have a certain brand of car, does that mean I can change my oil less frequently? My owner’s manual says I should change it this many miles, isn’t that the best?

In reality, all of this confusion is unnecessary. For the average driver, there’s one thing that needs to be taken into account to determine when they should change their vehicle’s oil: the type of oil. Not the brand of oil, not the brand of vehicle, and certainly not the mechanic that changes it. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual may recommend changing the oil around every 10,000 miles or something similar. However, what most people miss is that this is under what’s referred to as “normal” driving conditions. “Normal” driving conditions should really be called “ideal” driving conditions. Almost nobody who regularly drives a car will experience “normal” driving conditions on any given day.

Normal driving conditions are vague and unspecified in the manual. They go something like this: no driving up hills, no driving down hills, no air conditioning on, no stop and go traffic, no stop signs and traffic lights, no frequent trips under 5 miles, no operating in very cold weather, no operating in very hot weather, and so on. Seems pretty ideal to me. Who doesn’t regularly encounter many of these things? If, somehow, you don’t regularly encounter any of this, you’re good to go on whatever mileage your owner’s manual specifies for normal driving conditions. The other 99% of us fall under the “severe” driving conditions category, and need to follow those recommendations to keep our vehicles in good working order.

So how many miles should you drive before you think about getting an oil change? Since most vehicles operate at about the same efficiency and most drivers drive in about the same conditions, there are very simple guidelines you can follow depending on what type of oil you put into your vehicle. For most people, that oil will be straight up, good old-fashioned, non-synthetic regular oil. Regular oil should be changed after about 3500 to 4000 miles. A little bit fancier synthetic blend oils can go between 4500 and 5000 miles before needing to be changed. Super fancy full synthetic oils can go about 7500 miles between changes (no matter the manufacturer of the vehicle). Remember, all of these numbers are estimates based on averages. Every single vehicle/driver combination is a little different than every other, and will add different amounts of wear and tear to a vehicle’s engine. If you want the best estimate for you personally, talk to your mechanic!

The cheapest, most effective insurance you can get for your engine is regular oil changes at appropriate intervals. Over the life of your vehicle, regular oil changes will save you far, far more money than they cost. Maintaining your vehicle’s engine will also vastly increase its resale value when it comes time to get a new car. More importantly than any of that, regular oil (and fluid) changes are the easiest way to increase the overall safety of yourself and your passengers. What are you waiting for? Get that oil changed!

The Ultimate Driving Machine

We all know that BMW (Bavarian Motor Works (or Bayerische Motoren Werke to be more precise)) designs and builds “the ultimate driving machine.” But, sure as any other, BMW is a company that had a beginning, and things weren’t always so “ultimate.” How did the highly renowned BMW come to be? And what gives them the right to call their cars ultimate, anyway?

In the beginning, there was the Rapp Motorenwerke Company, which designed and produced (mainly) aircraft engines in Germany. The company was founded in 1913 by a man named Karl Rapp and his business partner Julius Auspitzer. Rapp took care of the operations side of the business and was the lead designer for the company’s engines. Rapp’s engines had relatively little commercial success, though they were known for being unique from the other airplane engines of the day (which were designed by the likes of Mercedes and Benz, before Mercedes-Benz). Despite its poor performance with more traditional buyers, the Rapp Motorenwerke Company found huge success when the Bavarian Army Administration began using its facilities to produce engines for World War I. This was the direct result of intense lobbying by a man named Fran Josef Popp, who would later be rewarded by becoming BMW’s first General Director. Popp also brought in an engineer named Max Friz, who pretty much scrapped Rapp’s obsolete, poorly performing engine designs and made the highly successful “type III” design. Mr. Rapp was accused of holding the company back by the company’s partners, who then decided to terminate his contract. They needed a new name for the company, so bam, boom, bang, the Bayerische Motoren Werke Company was created.

BMW wasn’t out of the woods yet, though. The Treaty of Versailles, which stopped Germany from rearming after WWI, placed huge restrictions on aircraft engine production. So, the company adapted and began to produce motorcycles in 1923 and then automobiles in 1928. When Germany began rearmament in the 1930s, however, BMW again landed extremely lucrative aircraft engine production deals with the administration. This held the company afloat until 1959, when financial hardship forced the shareholders to meet and discuss the company’s future. Refusing to give up and liquidate all assets, BMW pushed into the booming automobile industry with renewed vision. BMW acquired new manufacturing rights to vehicle designs and even acquired an entire automobile company named Hans Glas. This transformation into a completely new company, as we all know today, paid off quite well for BMW. BMW grew immensely over the years and developed into one of the most renowned automobile manufacturers in the world.

So, why do they get to call their cars “ultimate” driving machines? I mean, other car companies have been at it just as long as BMW. Obviously, companies can (and often do) claim the superiority of their products. But BMW is a bit of a special case. According to Forbes, for two years in a row now, a global private consulting firm called Reputation Institute has named BMW the absolute most reputable company on the planet. That rank comes directly from the people—around 55,000 consumers in 15 markets worldwide participated in the study which asked about people’s feelings of trust, esteem, and admiration for different global companies. Trust in a company as a whole, more than the company’s product, says Reputation Institute, is how people decide to spend their money. BMW attributes their high rank to their long history of consistency and reliability with their stakeholders. So how much do you trust BMW? Perhaps, as they claim, BMWs really are the ultimate driving machine.