Don’t Ignore That Check Engine Light

When your Check Engine light comes on it’s not a suggestion and it’s not a reason to cover up the light with a piece tape either.  Typically your vehicle, especially newer cars and trucks, will very clearly tell you what you need to do, be it low tire pressure, oil change time, door ajar, and more. However at times, you will see the dreaded check engine light… What does that mean though?  Are you about to be hit with hundreds of dollars in car repairs?

Vehicle with Check Engine Light IlluminatedDon’t worry about that check engine light too much, but definitely don’t ignore it either.  Oftentimes your vehicle will trigger a check engine warning when something very minor is causing an issue.  Here are the most frequent causes of a check engine light.  Regardless, if you see that dashboard’s orange glow take action and call or connect with your local mechanic to get it addressed quickly.  The more quickly you get it addressed, the more likely you can avoid costly vehicle damage.  If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area, call us at Turn Key Automotive at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment to have the check engine light checked out and turned off.  In most cases you’ll be in and out in no time.

Check Engine Reason #1: Loose Gas Cap

Yep, a loose gas cap can cause your check engine light to come on. Before you worry or call your mechanic, turn off your car, check your fuel cap, and restart.  If the light is off, do a little dance, you’re in the clear.

Why does a loose gas cap matter?  Simply put, your gas sloshes around a lot in your tank and not only will you end up losing gas, you’ll be putting gas fumes directly into the environment.  On top of that you will be altering the pressure with your fuel system that may result in reduced vehicle performance.

If the free fix (checking the gas cap) didn’t work you will need to head into the mechanic to have them diagnose the issue.  Any reputable mechanic, such as Turn Key Automotive, will be very open and show you the diagnostic report and what repairs are needed.

Check Engine Reason #2: Oxygen Sensor

A bad O2 sensor is a relatively inexpensive repair, typically around $200 (depending on your vehicle), but one that if not addressed quickly can lead to more costly problems down the road.  Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your fuel system and works with your vehicle’s computer system to optimize your performance. If you have a bad O2 sensor you’ll experience:

  • Lower fuel economy (less miles per gallon)
  • Burn more fuel than needed resulting in a exhaust issues
  • Cause premature wear to your catalytic converter
  • Cause damage to your spark plugs

Check Engine Reason #3: Catalytic Converter

The next most common cause for a check engine light is a bad, or failing, catalytic converter.  Your car’s catalytic converter is part the exhaust system and is critical for keeping both your car and your environment in good condition.  It’s job is to convert harmful carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide.  Since your car or truck is designed to run with a functioning catalytic converter, if you have a bad one you will see increased emissions, a vehicle that runs hot, and a significant loss in fuel economy.

Unfortunately replacing a catalytic converter is not the cheapest repair.  Depending on the make and model of your car or truck you will be looking at anywhere between $400 t0 $800 for the entire job.  Fortunately Todd and the team at Turn Key Automotive will do everything they can to keep your costs to a minimum so you’ll be able to get back on the Myrtle Beach roads with a little cash left in your pocket.

Check Engine Reason #4: Mass Airflow Sensor

You may not even know what a mass airflow sensor is, but you be assured that your car or truck does it one, it is also a common cause of the dreaded check engine light.  The mass airflow sensor is what determines how much air your vehicle needs for optimum fuel efficiency.  A failing mass airflow sensor (also known as a MAS) will cause several issues that you’ll notice:

  • Trouble starting your vehicle or getting your engine to turn over
  • Stalling engine, typically after starting
  • Engine does not accelerate smoothly or is jumpy
  • The engine constantly hiccups and doesn’t run smoothly

Replacing your MAS will run a few hundred dollars, around $300 depending on your vehicle.  However if you have a bad MAS you most likely won’t need your check engine light to tell you something is wrong.  You’ll know you have an issue and should be planning a trip to the mechanic as soon as possible.

Check Engine Reason #5: Spark Plugs or Plug Wires

Like your mass airflow sensor above, you’ll know you have a problem if your spark plugs and/or wires are starting to fail.  And just like your MAS, bad plugs or wires will trigger your check engine light.  Standard spark plugs have a life between 30-50,000 miles.  If you see that engine line come on it is very likely that your plugs are starting to fail.  The good news is replacing your plugs and possibly wires is not that expensive.  Like all repairs it depends on your specific vehicle but oftentimes replacing spark plugs can be done for under $200.

There are plenty of signs of your plugs starting to go bad, but typically you’ll notice a decline in performance, engine sputtering, and not starting easily.

Fixing Your Check Engine Light In One Easy Step

We’ve covered the most common causes of check engine light, but many more exist. Your best, and easiest, bet to solve your check engine light issues is to take your car to a certified mechanic.  They will be able to diagnose your issue quickly and give you an estimate in advance for repairs.  If your engine light is on, give us a call here at Turn Key Automotive.  Our staff of ASE certified mechanics can lend our decades of experience in Myrtle Beach to you and get you back on the road.

Need help with your check engine light? Give us a call at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment today!

Is Your Vehicle In Need Of An Air Conditioning Check?

With another Myrtle Beach summer right around the corner, it’s time for you annual car air conditioning service check.  Why? Because oftentimes you won’t realize you have an air conditioning issue until the summer heat hits and you find yourself sweating behind the wheel.  The good news is a simple and fast AC system check up can identify any potential issues and give you time to get your car’s air conditioning system running at it’s peak before summer. Better yet, an AC check is fast and can be done at the same time as your next oil change.

Why Do You Need Your Car’s Air Conditioning System Checked?

The answer is simple really,  all systems degrade over time and your vehicle’s AC system is no different.  Over time the cooling efficiency drops and your vehicle will not be able to keep up with the harsh Myrtle Beach heat.  Checking your system annually before the heat hits will not only ensure that you stay cool, it also helps identify and fix issues before they become a problem.  Oftentimes simple issues can become big problems if you let them go too long unchecked.

How Do You Know Your Car’s Air Conditioning System Needs To Be Checked?

  • Does your AC have weak airflow?
    • Weak airflow is not just a mild inconvenience, it can be a serious issue with your system.  In fact, it can be the most obvious indicator that you have leak or failure.  This means you are likely introducing outside contaminates into your system, which will lead to mold and mildew.  The leak could be as simple as a loose hose, which is a simple fix, or something a bit more complex like a broken ventilation fan.  It could also be due to broken seals in your ac blower, evaporator core, or case.  Regardless of why you are having weak airflow, the best course of action is to get it checked out quick before it leads to the dreaded mold/mildew problems.
  • Is your AC not as cold as it used to be?
    • Uh oh, the age-old problem of your vehicles air conditioning just not working as good as it used to.  This is very common, even in cars and trucks that are only a few years old.  Sometimes the fix can be a simple a clogged refrigerant hose or expansion tube, or a more complicated mechanical failure.  Since the cause of your lack of cool air can be widespread, we recommend a checkup to identify any issues right away.  In some cases, just adding a bit of refrigerant will get you back in the cool comfort of a fine-tuned AC.
  • Does your vehicle’s system smell horrible?
    • The good news is you’re cool and comfortable… The bad news is it reeks in your car!  There’s a few things that can cause your AC system to not smell good, and in all cases an air freshener is NOT the solution.  This is a problem that is typically the symptom of another issue.  The solution could be replacing an old and dirty cabin filter.  However it could also signify a mold or mildew problem caused by condensation or outside air collecting in the system.

The good news for your car or truck’s air conditioning system is a quick check up will often identify and fix the issue before it ever becomes a problem.  And, since most vehicles do not have a warning light or notification that you have an issue, it is often your comfort or a system check up that will identify a potential issue.

You can learn more about the AC services at Turn Key Automotive here as well as calling us at (843) 293-6793.  The best news, Turn Key Automotive offers an inexpensive, $19.95, air conditioning system check that takes just a few minutes.

Keeping Your Tires On The Road

There’s only one thing connecting your vehicle, and family’s safety, to the road.  And while you may not be thinking about your car or truck’s tires often, you should know a few things to ensure your connection to the road is secure. Here’s the five most important things you need to know to keep your tires in shape. If you have questions or need help, you can always call the team at Turn Key Automotive at 843-293-6793 or by contacting us here.

Tire Care Tip #1: Check Your Tread

Your tire tread is the most common concern with drivers, and your team here at Turn Key Automotive.  Every turn of your wheels takes off a microscopic portion of your tire tread.  Typically a good tire can last for 50, 60, or even more many more thousand miles, but as the miles go by your tread disappears. And the tread is what ensures your wheels actual touch the road to give you the grip you need.

The penny tread test for your tires by Turn Key Automotive

So, when do you need to replace your tires due to tread wear?  We recommend to start thinking about a new set of shoes for your car or truck when you have 3/32″ of tread remaining.  When you only have 2/32″ you are now in immediate need for a replacement.  How can you tell?  The penny test is a great and simple way.  Simply place a penny in your tread with Lincon’s head facing down.  If you can see the top of his head, you need new ones.  Better yet is the quarter test, the same test but using George Washington instead.  If you can see George’s head, it means you only have 3/32″ of tread left and you should start thinking about investing in new tires.

Tire Care Tip #2: Proper Inflation Matters

This is one of the most important factors when it comes to tires because it affects so many different areas – including tread life, fuel mileage, and vehicle performance. Underinflated tires increase rolling resistance, which forces the engine to work harder and burn more fuel to make the wheels turn. Underinflated tires also wear significantly faster, and cause for a rougher ride.

To avoid these pitfalls, use a tire pressure gauge to check pressures weekly, but only when the vehicle hasn’t been driven for several hours as hot tires don’t provide an accurate pressure reading. The proper inflation pressure isn’t what’s listed on the tire’s sidewall but rather what’s printed by the vehicle manufacturer on a sticker on the gas tank door or on the driver’s door or door frame.

Tire Care Tip #3: Balancing, Alignment & Rotation

Proper balanced and aligned wheels will keep your tires healthy longer.  Lucky for you the mechanics at Turn Key Automotive check this during your routine maintenance.  Luckily for you, proper balance and alignment also make for a smooth ride and easy steering.

Rotating your tires also helps ensure they last for the full life of your warranty as well.  Refer to your owner’s manual, but generally a rotation interval of 6,000 miles is recommended. Tire rotation time also offers a good opportunity to have your wheels balanced. It’s another step you can take to maximize your investment.

Tire Care Tip #4: Tires Don’t Last Forever

If  you’re like most drivers, you only think about replacing your vehicle’s tires when there’s little to no tread left.  However, just like you tires age and get more fragile the older they get.  While you will likely need to replace your car tires when your tread is low, if you’re a low milage driver you will want to consider your tire’s expiration date.

Why?  The roads, changing seasons and weather, and most of all the sun all harm the integrity of your tires over time.  A great example is the very old tires you will find on that old trailer out back.  The tread is there but dry rot, cracking and weakening rubber can all lead to failure.

Tire industry experts recommend replacing tires that are six or seven years old, even if they have plenty of tread depth remaining. You can determine any tire’s age by looking for the DOT code that appears on every sidewall. The last four numbers indicate the week and year of manufacture. So for example, 2116 indicates the it was made in the 21st week of 2016. 

Tire Care Tip #5: Get The Right Tires

Choosing the right tires for your car or truck

Not all tires are the same and your vehicle type and your driving needs will determine what tires are best for you.  Cold weather, snow, and ice require different tire tread and compositions. Hot weather, like here in Myrtle Beach, require different tread patterns and needs.  The great news is regardless of your needs there are plenty of choices and price ranges to meet any budget.  Ask your team at Turn Key Automotive to help you select the best tires for your vehicle and driving style.  Our full line of name-brand names from Cooper, Michelin, BF Goodrich, Firestone, and more all come with some of the best prices on the Grand Strand.  For more information request a free tire estimate or contact us.

Winterize Your Vehicle With This Easy Checklist

It’s winter in Myrtle Beach, and that means cold! Well not always… with temperature swings from the blustery teens up to very comfortable 70s the Myrtle Beach weather can be just about anything in the winter. This can be just as tough on your car or truck as it is on you. Luckily while you can’t predict the weather, you can predict what your vehicle will need to survive this year’s winter. This checklist will give you all the tips and tricks to winterize your vehicle. If you have questions or need help, you can always call the team at Turn Key Automotive at 843-293-6793 or by contacting us here.

Myrtle Beach Vehicle Winterizing Checklist

Batteries

You know that winter is tough on engines and waking them up on a cold morning will often push your car battery to the limit. What you may not know is that the heat of a Myrtle Beach summer is what really damages your battery and prevents it from holding the full charge that it should. When winter rolls around and your car needs to pull all the energy it can to start, and if your battery is old or has been damaged, you’ll be sitting in the cold.

The good news is keeping your battery in shape is easy, before going into the winter have your mechanic check your battery charging system and overall battery health. If your battery is five or more years old, or starting to show signs of wear, replace it now. In fact with the harsh temperature swings in Myrtle Beach, replacing your car or truck battery every four years makes a lot of sense.

Engine Oil

Cold weather starts can be a lot safer on your engine with the proper oil. If you have not made the switch to a full synthetic oil, now is the perfect time. Synthetic oil flows more freely across the wide temperature swings and does not require warm up for optimum performance. At your next oil change, consider the switch and be ready for winter.

Antifreeze

A frozen engine can be a nightmare that will not only cost you hours, but can also cause significant damage to your vehicle. The best way to prevent costly engine damage is to ensure your vehicle’s antifreeze is checked and ready to protect your vehicle. Begin by testing the antifreeze’s strength with an antifreeze tester, which will tell you the lowest temperature to which your engine is protected from freezing.

Check your coolant level often and ensure your antifreeze is at the proper level before the cold hits! The best news is when you have your vehicle serviced at Turn Key Automotive; we check this for you as part of your multi-point inspection.

Belts & Hoses

Your car or truck belts and hoses can fail in the cold weather. They’re primarily composed of rubber, which decomposes over time and loses flexibility in colder temperatures, making those near the end of their service life more prone to failure in colder temperatures. To prevent this from happening, you or your mechanic can examine the belts for signs of cracking along the belt’s sidewalls or for signs of irregular wear. If you plan on checking the hoses yourself, wait until the engine is cool and then feel along the length of each rubber hose for any soft spots or bulges – signs of impending failure. Even if there aren’t signs of wear, always follow the replacement intervals recommended in the owner’s manual for both belts and hoses.

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are one of the cheapest and most noticeable improvements you can make to your vehicle as you head into winter. In fact, you should be replacing your wipers every six months. When you do replace your wipers, go for the newer beam style wipers that last longer, make better contact with the windshield, and work better year round.

While you are replacing your wipers, consider using a deicing solution in your wiper fluid reservoir. Something like Prestone De-Icer can do a great job helping melt that morning frost and get you on the road faster.

Tires

Tires really are the only thing connecting your car or truck to the road and if your tires are no up to the stresses of winter weather, you could be in for disaster! Make sure you have good four season tires with plenty of tread.  If you think your tires are not up to the challenges of winter, check out the wide selection of tires at Turn Key Automotive.

Passenger Comfort

As we head into winter don’t forget the most important part of any vehicle, the passengers. You can make winter a much more enjoyable time of year by getting the inside ready for cold weather. Here are a few items your car should have to make winter driving more enjoyable.

  • Ice scraper
  • Box of tissues
  • Rugged floor mats, such as the WeatherTech mats sold by Turn Key Automotive
  • Safety kit for those unexpected delays and issues. This should consist of warm blankets, flashlights, gloves, a few water bottles, and more.
  • Lastly, don’t forget your AAA card and other emergency contacts.

Not Sure How To Winterize Your Car?

Getting your car or truck ready for the cold can be easy.  Just call Turn Key Automotive at (843) 293-6793 or contact us and we can walk you through gettin your vehicle ready.  We can even handle your entire checklist while you relax in our comfortable waiting room