Check Engine Lights & Auto Repair with Val & Mike Schepens, Mike’s Auto Repair

Val & Mike Schepens - Mike's Auto Repair, serving Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach & Irvine

Val & Mike Schepens – Mike’s Auto Repair, serving Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach & Irvine

Val Schepens: Yeah. So, I thought what we would do is talk about two things that, actually, we’re trying to promote in our business. I’ve shared that we are a smog repair only station. I’ll talk about that in just a little bit, but importantly, this ‘check engine’ light. He gets how many calls a day on this ‘check engine’ light?

Mike Schepens: I probably spend a half hour of my life a day explaining the ‘check engine’ light.

Val Schepens: And what it means, and what is it, and why can’t you just shut it off. Can I put a piece of black tape over it? I mean, you name it. What? You have to charge me to check this? I mean, it goes on and on. You saw the equipment that I have. I even wanted Guy to make me a nice piece of jewelry out of it for my reunion. People just don’t understand. So, anyway, that ‘check engine’ light is also known, I guess back in the day, as the mal-indicator.

Mike Schepens: Malfunction indicator.

Val Schepens: Malfunction indicator light. See why I need to have them here. Anyway, there are usually… There’s many reasons why that ‘check engine’ light comes on, and there are many different codes.

Then, you have to check one code, and it can be something completely different, and it does take a lot of time on the technician’s part to identify and test and drive, and maybe replace a part and test again. I thought I’d share with you at least the five most common reasons why the ‘check engine’ light comes on. A few of them are very preventable. Again, I wrote what you said, Sally. It’s easier to invest in prevention than to… Was it invest?

Business Growth Innovators Member: Yes.

Val Schepens: Invest in the illness.

Business Growth Innovators Member: No. No.

Val Schepens: No.

Business Growth Innovators Member: Prevent.

Mike Schepens: Preventing. Prevent something, then fix it.

Val Schepens: OK. Well, OK. I put the word ‘invest’. But anyway, it’s easier to invest in the prevention. That is the main thing on this. The number one probably cost…

Mike Schepens: I had an epiphany.

Val Schepens: OK.

Mike Schepens: After hearing Sally, and then I saw Dr. Mike. An easy way to think of this whole ‘check engine’ light computer thing is, the computer, or the ECM it’s called, is the brain. The wires and the sensors are like the nervous system. When the ‘check engine’ light comes on, it’s like you have a pain, like when you go see Dr. Mike.

It’s a disruption in that nervous system. The signal is not coming back to the computer. So, it turns the ‘check engine’ light on. That’s basically why the ‘check engine’ light comes on. I thought of that while I was sitting over there. So, that’s pretty good.

Val Schepens: So, number one. If that ‘check engine’ light comes on, and of course, you have a newer car, the first thing you want to check is your gas cap. The reason why that is because fuel vapors can leak out and go through the whole fuel system, or…

Mike Schepens: Fuel evaporative system.

Val Schepens: Fuel evaporative system. So, the first thing you want to do is make sure it’s tight. If it doesn’t go off, then you might want to look at the ring around it, the gasket. Sometimes, they get worn. So, you might need a new fuel cap. Other times, they crack. I mean, they just wear down. That’s usually the most common, especially in the newer cars.

That is something that, usually, you can replace yourself, and the light will go out. Then, you don’t have to worry about it. But if the light comes back on, then there might be another issue. That’s when you should probably get in and have it checked out. The second most common would be the O2 sensor. When this fails, it reduces the sensor’s ability to change the oxygen fuel mixture.

A faulty sensor reduces your gas mileage. So, you will see that you’re not getting as good gas mileage as you usually do. You’re actually increasing the emissions. So, you’re polluting the environment. Did you want to add anything about the O2 sensor?

Mike Schepens: O2. Yeah. Everybody knows O2 is oxygen. It measures the oxygen in the fuel mixture, and then that tells the computer whether it has a rich or lean mixture. But if it sets a code, it goes to like it’s base mixture. So, it’s way richer. The computer’s always trying to survive. So whenever something goes wrong, it just goes as high as it can go richness to keep it running. So then, also too, now you get the catalytic converter, the big thing she’s going to get to. Too much fuel getting into that catalytic converter can ruin it eventually, which is very expensive.

Val Schepens: And that’s something that if your technician tells you you need an O2 sensor, take care of it. Because if you wait, it’s just going to cost you more money. That’s what he was just saying. The catalytic converter is probably the most expensive emissions part that you can replace in your car. I’ve seen them as low as $800 up to about $2000. So, I would say the average cost of a catalytic converter is about $1200, and some cars have two. [Laughing]. So, that is something you want to take care of. You’ll recognize that you’ll get poor gas mileage, and your car won’t be able to accelerate.

Mike Schepens: And the ‘check engine’ light will come on.

Val Schepens: Yes. Now, this is another preventative maintenance that you can do at your oil change, at least once a year. Change your air filter. Change your air filter because your mass air flow sensor is another component of the smog and the emissions that goes out, puts the ‘check engine’ light on. It’s a very costly thing also, not [??] about $400 or $500. But still, at least. It’s expensive. But if you did your regular maintenance, your air filter, that’s something you can prevent. This is something, regular preventative maintenance. Your spark plugs. Back when I drove my 1968 Mustang, [Laughing], you had to replace them about, what? Every oil change or every…

Mike Schepens: Every 10,000 miles.

Val Schepens: Every 10,000 miles. That was probably every oil change for me. But, now that I married a mechanic, I know better. But now, newer cars, you got 100,000 miles on it. Doing a tune up is expensive. It can bee $300, $400, $500, depending on the make and model of the car, but you got to remember those spark plugs lasted 100,000 miles, and they’re platinum. They have some very expensive metals in them. But again, you’ll see it save on gas mileage and performance on your car. In the long run, that ‘check engine’ light will not probably come on in regards to that.

Mike Schepens: But if one goes bad, the ‘check engine’ light will come on, and that’s a misfire code. See? That ‘check engine’ light keeps coming on. It’s coming up here.

Val Schepens: So with that, I think those are the five basic reasons why that ‘check engine’ light comes on. There are still, again, many different reasons why. That is why Mike and I, last year, we were actually the second auto repair facility in Orange County, independent, that became a smog repair only station. I don’t want to go into what the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the smog was before, because that’s very complicated. But, what they’ve done, back in 2013, is they have four venues now that you can get your cars smogged.

They are called Star Smog Test Only Station, Star Smog and Repair Only Station, Star Smog Only Station, and what we are is a Smog Repair Only Station. We don’t do smogs, but we are licensed and legally able to repair any failed smog that happens. So with that, we have a technician. He’s an ASC master technician, and also, Mike is an ASC master technician. That’s a requirement, and we have to have a smog technician, which is our technician that we have at the shop. His name is Dan. With that, they are able to take these failed smogs and get them repaired.

Then, we can legally take it there to the smog facility and get it smogged for you. So, that is why we decided to do that. It’s just that it’s the smog program here in California, and California has one of the toughest emissions in the country. So, we felt that since it’s constantly changing, and the investment and the equipment is constantly changing, we thought this is a good way to start.

Then eventually, when that five gas analyzer that I showed you, at one point, they’re thinking that that might be the way that all shops can have that, with licensed technicians. So, hopefully, the smog program will eventually get more simplistic. But right now, we decided to go this way. I checked on the Internet yesterday. Out of the 920 smog stations, and that’s all of them combined…

Now, there’s seven in Orange County that are repair only stations. We are getting more and more business in regards to that. That’s what we want to be known as, a smog specialist. We’ve had some challenging cars in there, but we do get them passed with time and knowledge and everything.

Mike Schepens: Some money.

Val Schepens: So, do you have anything to add about the smog program?

Mike Schepens: Well, there’s one thing. The smog program is changing again, is the rumor. We’re probably going to be able to smog cars eventually, because they finally realized that late model cars were passing, except for when the ‘check engine’ light is on, obviously. So, they realized. Our state moves a little slow, but they decided we can have a program where you just check and make sure that there’s no codes, no ‘check engine’ light, and everything is working. Obviously, the car is fine.

But, like anything the state does, takes a long time to get it done because they have to have different people making the machine. They can’t have a monopoly. So, it’s going to be, like, years.

Val Schepens: OK. Just real quickly, we’re Val and Mike’s Auto Service. We’ve been 20 years in business this year, and our location is on Metzler Lane in Huntington Beach. Our hours are Monday through Friday, from 7:30 to 5:30 PM. We’ve been a AAA member for 16 years. We have ASC certified mechanics, two master technicians with a smog technician. We are your smog repair specialists.

Fax: 714-375-3160
17662 Metzler Lane #A
Huntington Beach, CA 92647