What To Do When Your “Check Engine” Light Keeps Turning On

Take the driver seat on any late model car on the road today, and you will see that the dashboard is filled with different warning lights. and if that ain’t enough, there are buzzers that alert the driver of anything that needs prompt attention, or worse, signal when engine damage may be inevitable unless the car is pulled over. Car engineers have an eye for detail though on how any driver potentially reacts when one of those warning lights turn on, so there’s no cause for panic if a “check engine” light menacingly turns on or a buzzer alerts you of something wrong.

At Murrieta Auto Repair, we have seen these common problems from our customers whose cars we have promptly serviced. Yes, there are “false alarms” (read: faulty electronics) with these warning lights but quite a few warrant a complete engine check to see if that car needs to be serviced as soon as possible or ignoring these light might compromise passengers’ and vehicle safety.

In the not-so-distant past, it was very tricky to diagnose check engine light or warning light problem. It needed the observation of the driver when does the problem happen and how often, if warning lights turn on certain periods during the engine is started. Today, the ‘guesswork’ has been removed with the advent of diagnostic and troubleshooting equipment and software.

At Murrieta Auto Repair, we have the tools, hardware and software to accurately diagnose any problem so that we could get at the root of the problem that makes the check engine light (or any warning light) turn on.

The check engine light or the service-engine-soon lights are like traffic signals. The red ones that light up means that you have to pull over to a safe area of the road, stop the engine immediately and do a check under the hood.

Common problems that often cause red warning lights to go off are:

  • Engine overheating
  • Low engine oil pressure or oil pump problems
  • Transmission overheating or fluid loss
  • Low battery voltage or battery failure
  • Brake system failure – On vehicles with ABS (anti-lock braking systems) this is a major failure so it’s wise to stop, pull over the road and have your car towed.

Other engine problems that cause a red warning light or check engine light to go off are:

  • Faulty alternator that is not charging the battery properly
  • Low or empty brake fluid
  • Missing engine belts
  • Low levels of anti-freeze (or radiator coolant), engine oil and transmission fluid

Murrieta Auto Repair has the diagnostic equipment and ASE-certified Master Technician auto mechanics that can solve any check engine light problem, without significant ‘downtime’ and without compromising vehicle safety. We do value your observations on what may have caused your vehicles problems and we will communicate with you in plain language (NO strange shop talk here) and give you an honest quote at reasonable rates (NO “bill padding” here).

Murrieta Auto Repair: We are your No. 1 Dealership Alternative in Murrieta, California

Having a Smog Check? Read THIS First!

The state of California has one of the toughest criteria when it comes to smog checks than any country in the world or US state. This is not something we just made up as it is stated plainly on the DMV California website in its Smog Check FAQ’s page

Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs, electric, natural gas powered vehicles over 14,000 lbs, hybrids, motorcycles, trailers, or gasoline powered vehicles 1975 and older…”

So if you have a car or any four-wheeler that’s not older than the 1997, you are required to have one. Not just only one but twice a year or biennial for some California counties. (please refer to DMV California page).

No unnecessary stress on your part, valued vehicle owner; we at Murrieta Auto Repair will share some time-tested “tactics” that will help you pass the smog check on the first try!

Here are the three things you must do before having your vehicle smog-checked:

  1. Have your car checked if it’s not running smoothly. Have you had any ‘check engine’ or ‘service engine soon’ warning on your dash lately? Now is the time to have it checked as this might mean that your catalytic converter (that thing on your tailpipe other than your muffler, keeps smog causing pollutants in check) might be malfunctioning and might cause your vehicle to fail the smog check the first time around. A vehicle that has its ignition timing checked with an engine humming beautifully, with no warning lights on the dash indicating trouble, more often than not, passes the California smog check!
  1. Have a proper oil change; a really simple thing that most drivers overlook before having their vehicles smog checked. Most vehicles on the road today have exhaust recirculation systems that feed back “smog-causing particles” into the engine intake (with a fresh fuel-air mix) where it gets burned in the cylinders. This technology works wonderfully for the air but when this system is out of whack, engine oil absorbs these “smog-causing particles”. To make it not too technical, having fresh oil in your engine really helps a lot in making your car pass a smog check.
  1. Drive your vehicle around for twenty to thirty minutes before having a smog check at a STAR-certified smog station. Trust us, your friends at Murrieta Auto Repair, having a properly warmed-up engine gives you that extra edge in passing your required California smog check. A properly warmed-up engine emits very low “smog-causing particles” than a less-than-warmed-up engine of the same make or condition. This is time-tested advice that has been proven by us and our very satisfied customers whom we have helped pass their smog checks all these years.

You must have all these simple and easy checks done at your favorite and trusted auto repair service station. We at Murrieta Auto Repair, can help you with all these three checks and we are a State of California STAR-certified and -licensed smog check station. It is in our best interest that we help you with anything that will make you pass your required smog check, the first try!

Expensive Auto Repair: Top 5 Auto Repair Scams

It’s no exaggeration that having a car (or any other vehicle) is an investment. Vehicle owners need to have it on top of their minds that a positive driving experience can only happen if the vehicle that’s in your garage (or used for your business) is well-maintained. But, “well-maintained” here does not equal to high prices on replacement parts and services or taking out a personal loan just to finance that emergency repair.

Preventive (or periodic) maintenance is the key so your car, truck, daily driver; or valued import or classic, runs and drives like it just rolled off the car dealership yesterday.

We, at Murrieta Auto Repair, are on a mission to provide everyone in Murrieta and nearby areas of Riverside County, the best services and quick repairs that we are becoming known for. And not only that, inform you, our valued customers, on ways to save on vehicle repairs and not get scammed.

The Top 5 Scams that other auto repair shops pull on their clients are:

1. Unnecessary repair jobs – Very common, and a tip off that you are being “robbed” is that a non-vital problem, a weird noise when changing gear or a malfunction light that intermittently turns on, is prescribed with an expensive transmission repair or engine rebuild. Most of the time, problems in your car or truck can be easily (and affordably) solved by preventive maintenance such as regular oil changes and running a systems check (through diagnostic tools) to spot minor problems before they get too expensive to repair.

2. Misdiagnosis – This is a sneaky one, if you are not careful or you present the typical “never-care-what’s-under-the-hood” attitude, unscrupulous shop crews will pull a thousand-dollar repair estimate (or billing) that would typically can be done with just a couple hundred bucks. At Murrieta Auto Repair, we will diagnose what’s ailing your vehicle and if you are not satisfied with our diagnosis and repair, you can get your second (or third even fourth) opinion anywhere. And we’ll do repairs again on your vehicle, free of charge, if we didn’t get it right the first time around (terms and conditions apply).

3. Parts Switching – Unscrupuluous auto shops bill you for new parts, say brake pads or tie-rod ends, when what they actually replaced were used parts from similar vehicles that might share the same parts as yours. You are not just being scammed but you, your family and friends’ safety on the road is compromised. These used parts often have signs of metal fatigue (cracks, dents) and can break anytime. You can demand from your favorite auto repair shop to be shown the damaged parts that need replacement and be shown where these were put on your vehicle. If you are told “it’s too complicated for you to understand” or anything that insults you asking questions about repair, take your business elsewhere.

4. Repairs taking too long – It’s unreasonable to demand that your car be up and running in two days if you when you went through major collision. But if a major transmission system or brake system repair is estimated to take weeks to a month and there’s no “waiting line” of customers in the garage, buyer beware. The lead time that is estimated is commonly the same time where other scams like part switching and unnecessary repairs happen. Again, buyer beware.

5. Pull the “emotion card” – Whenever the repair management or their mechanic says “I would not drive around in that car” or “You should have that repaired immediately or else…” or similar phrases, they are definitely pulling your emotional strings. And if they manage to reel you in with that, you can expect unnecessary, costly repairs and services.

We, at Murrieta Auto Repair, adhere to the highest standards of courteous, honest and quick service on all makes and brands of cars.

We will never scam, rob you blind or pull any other trick on you. That’s company policy.

We aim to exceed your expectations and give you utmost satisfaction on all the services that we have to offer. You might have tried the rest; Now, it’s the time to try us, who are on a mission, to be the best in Murrieta and Riverside County.

What’s so special about my Catalytic Converter?

Have you ever wondered why your Catalytic Converters are so expensive? Or how they work? Here is an awesome video from the Science Channel discussing how Catalytic Converters work. Nobody likes to fork over the BIG bucks to repair their vehicle, but at least this explains why the cost is so high if your Catalytic Converter does fail.


Feel free to give us a call with any questions you may have!

Murrieta Auto Repair