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MARCH 27, 2020

THE PRESS

AUTO GUIDE

CARS 路 TRUCKS 路 BOATS 路 BIKES 路 RVS

Tuning Up, Heading Out

The Dreaded Engine Light

Hitting The Open Road

Local advice from the professionals for spring auto maintenance

Understanding ECM and why your checkengine light is on

Tips for first-time RV owners and seasoned trail blazers


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Preparing your car for spring and summer Have your AC checked to ensure it’s working, check your tire pressure — of course, your coolant — and make sure your thermostat is working properly.

DAWNMARIE FEHR

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oming out of the winter season, your car may need a little upkeep.

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– Julie Dolan, owner, Borden Junction Garage check your coolant and tires and general maintenance. We offer a digital inspection that goes through the entire car.” Bill Brandt Ford is located at 8100 Brentwood Blvd., in Brentwood. For hours and information, call 877-391-2768 or visit www.billbrandtford.com/service/index.htm. Borden Junction Garage is located at 3000 Taylor Lane, in Byron. For hours and information, call 925-634-5970. Keep it New Auto Service is located at 550 Harvest Park Drive in Brentwood. For hours and information, call 925-308-9902 or visit www.keepitnewautoservice.com. To comment, visit www.thepress.net

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With the arrival of spring, now is a good time to get your vehicle tuned up and ready for the coming months. Borden Junction Garage has been operating out of Byron for 40 years. Owner Julie Dolan suggests drivers make sure their AC is in good working order before the heat waves roll in. “Have your AC checked to ensure it’s working, check your tire pressure — of course, your coolant — and make sure your thermostat is working properly,” she said. “Also check your belts and hoses.

SALES EVENT

That’s a lot of it right there.” In Brentwood, Linn Small suggested bringing your car into your favorite mechanic to have them take a look under the hood. He has owned Keep it New Auto Service since 2009 and said he is more than happy to help owners check in on their vehicles. “Well, first use lots of Lysol and make sure your trunk is completely unfilled of toilet paper,” Small joked. “As far as (your car),

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After a long winter of rain, mud and even some snow, it’s a good idea to check in with your ride and make sure all parts are in working order. Start with a good wash to remove built-up dirt and grime, then take a look at some of the more accessible items on your car. Check your oil, replace wiper blades and fluid and look for small scratches and paint flaws that could lead to a rust problem. A trip to an auto supply store will fill most of these needs, saving money and time spent waiting at an auto repair shop. But given the current COVID-19 situation, for those who don’t feel comfortable replacing even small car parts, there are plenty of mechanics in East County and most are operating during the shelter-in-place order as they fit the criteria of essential businesses. Bill Brandt Ford’s Parts and Service center is open and still offers delivery and pickup of your vehicle. Mechanics are taking extra precautions to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, sanitizing cars when they arrive and after they complete work on them.

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Navigating automobile incentives and rebates Potential buyers who are aware of offered incentives and rebates can use that knowledge to negotiate lower prices on desired vehicles.

trucks are among the most

expensive items a person will buy over their lifetime, and no one wants to spend more than necessary. Getting a good deal on a car or truck may come down to researching rebates and incentives. The online automotive resource Edmunds.com reports incentives and rebates are used by automakers to spur sales of particularly slow-selling models. Incentives and rebates are also used to entice previous customers to stay loyal to a brand. Potential buyers who are aware of offered incentives and rebates can use that knowledge to negotiate lower prices on desired vehicles. Here is a closer look at some of the incentives that may be available: ♦♦ Dealer incentives. Dealer incentives are factory-to-dealer offers that reduce the true cost to buy a vehicle from the factory, according to Cars.com. Dealers are under no obligation to pass on these cost-cutting measure to customers, but many do just to move stock. ♦♦ Cash-back rebate. This well-known incentive is based on manufacturers offering

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cash rebates directly to customers when they make a purchase before a given date. Cash-back rebates are generally offered on models that may not be selling as well as manufacturers had hoped. Some rebates are rolled over from month to month until desired quotas have been met. Think of a rebate as a coupon of sorts applied to the cost of the vehicle. ♦♦ Low APR financing. With this incentive, dealerships offer low interest rates on vehicles financed through their preferred lenders. Rates may range from 0% to 5%. Keep in mind that buyers’ credit scores need to be

fairly high to qualify, and the low APR may only be on certain models. ♦♦ Lease specials. Customers who lease may find manufacturers often offer special lease programs through captive financing

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companies. These are subsidized leases based on a residual value that’s much higher than the actual worth of the vehicle at term’s end. Dealers are playing with the numbers to bring down the monthly payment and thereby make their vehicles seem more appealing. RealCarTips says that sometimes dealerships will apply cash-back rebates or financing incentives toward a lease instead of a financed vehicle. ♦♦ Bonus cash incentive. This type of incentive generally targets a specific demographic, such as recent college graduates or military personnel. These incentives are not widely advertised, so it may be necessary to inquire about what is offered. ♦♦ Government rebates. Some savings are realized not through the manufacturer or dealer, but from government rebate programs. For example, tax credits may be available to buyers who purchase cars that run on alternative fuels or hybrids. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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Symptoms of engine control module problems

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Many drivers have experienced the dreaded check-engine light, which indicates some type of issue with the engine.

he notion of vehicle maintenance often conjures images of greased-stained

hands and car hoods propped up. While professional and amateur mechanics are still no strangers to getting their hands dirty, vehicle maintenance in the 21st century also involves diagnosing issues that might arise with a car’s engine control module. What is an engine control module? An engine control module, or ECM, serves as the primary computer system for many critical components in modern vehicles. ECMs essentially serve as the brains behind the engines, controlling everything from fuel mixtures to emissions controls. Sensors within the engine send signals to the ECM, and the ECM then uses that information to help the car run smoothly. Issues that arise with the ECM can make driving difficult and, in some cases, impossible. What are some potential signs of ECM issues? The automotive service provider AAMCO notes that a faulty or failing ECM will exhibit various symptoms. However, it’s important to note that these symptoms are not always indicative of issues with the ECM; when they arise, drivers may want to schedule appointments with their mechanics so the true culprit can be identified and the problem

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Vehicle maintenance in the 21st century involves diagnosing issues that might arise with a car’s engine control module. can be fixed. Below are some symptoms: ♦♦ Check-engine light comes on. Many drivers have experienced the dreaded checkengine light, which indicates some type of issue with the engine. That issue can be a failing engine component, or it may indicate a failing or bad ECM. A mechanic can determine why the light has come on.

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♦♦ Engine performance issues. Even though the ECM is a separate entity from the engine itself, a bad or failing ECM can affect engine performance. That’s because such ECMs throw off the timing and fuel settings of the engine, leading to a sudden and noticeable reduction in engine performance. Engine power may be affected,

and the vehicle may experience a drop in fuel efficiency and issues with acceleration. ♦♦ Vehicle will not start. A failed ECM means the vehicle won’t start, as there’s nothing controlling the engine to tell it to do so. Failing ECMs may lead to struggles starting the vehicle, and whenever drivers experience these issues, they should consult their mechanics immediately so the issue does not escalate to the point where the engine won’t start at all. ♦♦ Erratic engine behavior. A malfunctioning ECM can lead to stalling or misfiring. These issues are often sporadic, which may give drivers the impression that nothing is seriously wrong. However, erratic engine behavior is a strong indicator of problems with the ECM, and these issues should be addressed immediately. Identifying ECM issues and promptly addressing them can help drivers keep their vehicles on the road. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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AUTO GUIDE

Saving money on insurance

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insurance costs. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cut auto insurance premiums, drivers can try various strategies to save money on their policies. ♦♦ Raise your policy’s deductibles. Higher deductibles may sound scary to drivers, but raising the deductibles is a great way to lower the cost of auto insurance. The auto insurance provider Progressive notes that deductibles typically range from $100 to $2,000. A driver whose policy has a $100 deductible will pay considerably more on his policy per month than a driver with a higher deductible. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute (III) notes that drivers who increase their deductibles from $200 to $1,000 can save 40% or more on their coverage costs. Drivers who choose this option should always be sure they have enough money in the bank to cover the cost of their deductibles. ♦♦ Bundle your policies. Some drivers save money on their auto insurance policies by buying two or more types of insurance from the same provider. For example, homeowners may save money by buying homeowners insurance from their

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cut auto insurance premiums, drivers can try various strategies to save money on their policies. auto insurance providers or vice versa. ♦♦ Research potential discounts. The III notes that many companies offer discounts to policyholders, even if those discounts are not necessarily promoted. Drivers can contact their insurance companies or shop around with other providers to ask about various discounts that can save them money on their policies. Anti-theft devices, defensive driving courses, low annual mileage and a strong credit record are some examples of ways to score potential discounts. Drivers can reduce the cost of their auto insurance policies in various ways, potentially saving themselves hundreds of dollars each year as a result. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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Facts about teen drivers every parent should know

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As exciting as driving can be for teens, it’s often a source of concern for their parents.

or any teenager, few moments are as exciting as when they earn their driver’s license,

which serves as an unofficial invitation to increased independence. As exciting as driving can be for teens, it’s often a source of concern for their parents. Young drivers do not have much experience behind the wheel. When coupled with teenagers’ propensity for engaging in risky behaviors, that inexperience can be a cause for anxiety for their parents. Parents aren’t overreacting, as statistics indicate how precarious a combination of teens and driving can be. ♦♦ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. In 2017, 2,364 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, and about 300,000 were treated at an emergency room for injuries suffered in crashes. ♦♦ Sixteen-year-old drivers in the U.S. have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, notes the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. ♦♦ The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that 229 teens were killed in distraction-related crashes in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

Inadequate instruction may contribute to the alarming accident statistics involving teen drivers. ♦♦ Geico Insurance’s “Teen Driving Statistics” says one in five 16-year-old drivers is involved in an auto accident within their first year of driving. Inadequate instruction may contribute to the alarming accident statistics involving teen drivers. According to Carcontrol.com, the average 16-year-old soccer player gets 1,500 hours of coaching. Conversely, only

50 hours of driving experience is required in some states for a driver’s license. The following strategies can help keep teen drivers and the roads they traverse safe: ♦♦ Enforce seat belt use, as teens and young adults tend to have the lowest seat belt use rates, offers the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

♦♦ Encourage teens to slow down while driving. Insufficient distance between vehicles and driving over the speed limit increases the risk of being involved in an accident. ♦♦ Even though alcohol consumption is illegal for people under the age of 21 in the U.S., many teens have admitted to drinking or riding with others under the influence. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and may loosen inhibitions, which is dangerous for any driver and may be especially so for inexperienced teen drivers. Initiate a parent-teen pact to always ask for a ride and avoid drunk driving. ♦♦ Rally for stricter graduated driver licensing requirements. Many states have a GDL program with certain restrictions but perhaps even more stringent restrictions can keep teens safer, longer. With support from parents, lawmakers, law enforcement and teens themselves, teen driving accidents and injuries can be reduced. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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Useful tips for RV camping beginners

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oughly 40 million Americans go recreational vehicle (RV) camping each year, and new

One tip for novice campers is to purchase the smallest RV comfortable, as it will be easier to drive and can open options regarding places to stay.

travelers can benefit from the wisdom and experience of those who have blazed trails before them. Before making a big purchase or hitting the road, consider the following:

Budget for all RV expenses It can be tempting to overspend on the RV itself, but buyers should factor in other expenses like hoses, wheel chocks, levelers, navigation systems, campsite fees and more.

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

places, save any unused condiment packets, napkins and packages of disposable cutlery. These items take up much less room than full-sized packages, and space inside RVs is often at a premium.

Invest in storage boxes

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Store belongings neatly and cleanly in plastic storage containers. Choose uniformly shaped and sized bins, which are more easily stacked and stored than bins of varying sizes.

Pack a paper map

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Navigation services that are powered by satellite or cell phone signals may not be available in inclement weather or when traveling through mountain ranges. Paper maps can fill the void and keep you on track.

When visiting restaurants and carryout

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The estimated time of arrival that popular navigation systems provide are customized to average car speeds. RVs generally move more slowly than cars, so allow for more time to arrive at your destination. This is an important consideration if you need to be at a campground by a certain time.

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Buy the smallest RV that is comfortable. Doing so opens up more options regarding places to stay. In addition, small RVs are more easily maneuvered on the road than large ones, especially for novices.

RVs can be a fun and relaxing way to travel, and novices can make such trips more enjoyable by following a few tips from seasoned road trippers. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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Consider the size of the RV

manufacturer-recommended towing capacity. This is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s door. Overloading the vehicle can cause transmission issues or burn out engines.

OAKLEY PRESS

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East Bay Autohaus is Your Local Factory Authorized Bosch Service Center specializing in Mercedes-Benz & BMW Service. We are your Import & European Service & Repair Specialist, offering you an alternative to the dealership. Factory diagnostic equipment for Mercedes-Benz & BMW service. We insist on original equipment parts. Our services are backed by a Three Year 36,000 Mile Warranty. East Bay Autohaus takes pride in being the best in the industry and are committed to providing the very highest level client service in combination with our extensive Mercedes-Benz & BMW background. Master Guild Recognition is the highest level of achievement within the Standards of Excellence Program. Select employees in the dealer network join the ranks of “Master Guild” by achieving and maintaining their Master Certification status, and demonstrating the behaviors and values commensurate with the Mercedes-Benz brand. The honorees are true role models who hold themselves to the highest standards. Upon receiving this honor, these individuals are recognized by being invited to participate in an all-expense paid, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Germany through which they experience the heritage and passion behind the brand. Participants visit various Mercedes-Benz facilities in Stuttgart, the birthplace of the brand, and are immersed in the local culture, history and traditions. Master Guild participants are brand advocates! Returning participants share their experience with both coworkers and customers, and as such become “multipliers” in spreading the message of our guiding principle for the Mercedes-Benz brand, “The Best or Nothing.” Ian J. Lebby achieved the Master Guild award twice.

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Profile for Brentwood Press & Publishing

Auto Guide 03.27.2020  

The Press special section for automotive care in far East Contra Costa

Auto Guide 03.27.2020  

The Press special section for automotive care in far East Contra Costa