My Check Engine light is coming on, but there's plenty of oil and water in the car. What's wrong?

When the “Check Engine” light comes on, your car is telling you to have the computer system checked out at the earliest possible opportunity. A “Check Engine” light means that your car’s computer system has recognized a fault in one of its circuits. It is different from the oil pressure light that means STOP driving the car.

What does SAE and API mean?

The A.P.I. (American Petroleum Institute) takes data from automobile manufacturers and determines what qualities motor oils must have to properly lubricate engines. Oil companies use this information to blend additives into petroleum base stocks to produce proper motor oils used in automotive engines.

The S.A.E. (Society of Automotive Engineers) oversees testing and sets standards for oil viscosities. On oil containers or labels the weight is noted as “SAE 10w30” (usually noted within or near the API Donut), meaning that in accordance with Society of Automotive Engineer standards, the viscosity of the product is a 10-weight in colder temperatures and a 30-weight in warmer temperatures. Note that the “w” between the 10 and 30 stands for “winter” (or colder). The “w” is included in all multi-grade oil labels as a sign that the first number is the cold viscosity measurement, while the second number is the warm viscosity measurement.

With regard to tools, SAE refers to fractional measurements, non-metric. Many car manufacturers recommend a lighter weight oil be used in newer cars. Newer engines are built to tighter tolerances than before. This requires a lighter weight oil for proper lubrication when the engine is cold. Lighter weight oil also helps to increase fuel economy by a small amount.

Most manufacturers will list a range of oils that can be used for different conditions. Some are for below 30°C, some are for above 40°C, or for towing or trailering. These weight ranges will be listed in your owner’s manual. If the oil is not listed in the manual, it’s not a good idea to use it.

What is a cabin air filter and why do I need it?

During the hot summer months, contaminants, such as pollen, dust, mold spores and smog, can easily enter a vehicle’s passenger compartment through the air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems, making the air in the car six times dirtier than the air outside.. Motorists can protect themselves and their passengers from these containments by replacing the vehicle’s cabin air filter annually or more often in areas with heavy containments, or whenever heating or cooling efficiency is reduced. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens. If your vehicle is model year 2000 or newer, there’s a good chance it is equipped with a cabin air filter. Check your owner’s manual. If the cabin air filter is not replaced, it can cause musty odors in the vehicle, and over time, the heater and air conditioner may become damaged by corrosion.

Do I have to make an appointment with your shop? If so, how long will you need to have my vehicle for?

Our shop does not take appointments; we operate on a first-come-first-served basis. The beauty of our shop is that our oil changes typically take between 10-15 minutes so we have no need to keep your vehicle and inconvenience you. We are also open most evenings and weekends to benefit customers who work during the day. Please see our hours of operation for further details.

During your visual inspection of my vehicle, you indicated I had multiple leaks/engine leaks/transmission leaks/axle seal leaks/etc. Should I be worried?

If the leaks are minor, there is no need to worry. Check the level of the specific fluid indicated as leaking every 2nd or 3rd refueling, or pull into our shop and we’ll check it out for you. Topping up the fluids is less expensive than replacing the seals.

If the leaks are major, go see a mechanic you trust to replace the indicated seals.

Where do you get your recommended service intervals from?

We receive our service intervals from Motor Information Systems using a program called CheckChart. That company is connected to most manufacturers and compiles service intervals based on manufacturer requirements.

What are the benefits of having clean oil in the differentials and transfer case?

Just like engine oil, gear oil breaks down with time. Worn out gear oil may lead to premature gear or bearing failure in your vehicle if it is not regularly serviced. Our technicians have the proper service intervals for each specific vehicle that enters our shop and can advise you accordingly.

Why is it more beneficial to get a “backing plate” rear differential service than the traditional differential service where the fluid is just drained from the vehicle?

During a “backing plate” rear differential service, our technicians remove the rear backing plate in order to complete an internal inspection of the rear differential and its components. By servicing the rear differential in this way, our technicians are able to do a more thorough cleaning.

What are the benefits of using synthetic engine oil over mineral grade engine oil?

Synthetic lubricants protect better at high and low temperatures. In the summer, your engine will stay cooler and therefore use less fuel. In the winter, the engine receives lubrication sooner than with mineral grade oil. This results in less metal-to-metal contact and thus extends the life of the engine.

Why should I change my transmission fluid regularly?

Just like engine oil, transmission oil additives break down over time and no longer properly lubricate the transmission components and disperse heat evenly from the vehicle. Each vehicle has different service requirements for their transmission; our technicians refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations in order to properly service your transmission.

I hear you recently changed to Valvoline as your main fluid provider. What are the benefits of using their engine oils and fluids?

Valvoline has been a trusted oil manufacturer for over 140 years and has designed their oils and fluids to meet the needs of different engine types, as well as different driving conditions. Our shop continues to meet or exceed manufacturer warranties and requirements through our various services and we are pleased to add Valvoline to our list of warranty-approved oils and lubricants.

Valvoline products used in our shop include conventional oil, synthetic-blend oil, synthetic oil, transmission fluid, gear oil, conventional diesel engine oil, as well as synthetic diesel engine oil.

Why do Volkswagon and Audi vehicles require full synthetic engine oil instead of conventional engine oil?

Both Volkswagon and Audi oil standards have been modified by the manufacturer to allow extended drain intervals of 16,000 km. In order to safely run your vehicle for that extended service interval, the use of a synthetic oil is required.