Brea, CA | 714-985-9940

Charlie's Auto Tech

The bumper to bumper car doctor of choice.

Take a look at this helpful FAQ section, and then call our family owned team for service on your vehicle. You'll get great work from our ASE certified Master Technicians, and you'll see why local vehicle owners have been choosing us since 1996. Enjoy low prices, great service, genuine aftermarket parts, pick-up and drop-off services, and more!

Learn more about your vehicle

There's no need to worry when you deal with us, because we back up our work with a great 1-year / 12,000- mile WARRANTY.

Tires:

 

Is my tire full enough?

 

Check your tire’s air pressure often. Make it a part of your routine check-up! Be sure to check tire pressure only when your tire is cold (when it has not been driven on for more than a mile or two in the last hour). Check the spare, too! Always use a high quality gauge.

 

 

Can I repair a flat tire?

 

A tire that is punctured or has been driven on while flat for more than a short distance is usually no longer repairable. If your tire is below 1/16 of an inch in tread depth, then it’s due for a replacement anyway! While it is sometimes possible to repair flat tires, you should be careful and check with your auto professional.

 

 

Do I need the same size when I replace my tires?

 

Yes! Match up the size, speed rating, and construction (radial or non-radial) to what you had before. Your vehicle is designed for certain types of tires, and changes can affect handling and stability.

 

 

Why do I need to rotate my tires?

 

Rotation ensures that your tires wear evenly. If left in the same spot, your tires will be worn too much in certain areas, leading to a danger of blowouts. Make sure to have your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

 

 

Is wheel alignment important?

 

Yes! Wheel alignment helps makes sure that your tires are not being worn too much in any one spot. Alignment that’s out of order will drag your tires in a way that they’re not designed for.

 

 

When should I align my vehicle?

 

Have your vehicle’s alignment done at least once every 2 years, as well as when you make steering or tire changes. Check for problems annually and whenever you feel that there’s a problem with steering or handling.

 

 

There’s a vibration in my car. What do I do?

 

Check your suspension, tires, and steering. Vibration can cause unsafe tire wear, so act fast.

 

 

How far can I go on my spare tire?

 

Not too far! Your spare tire is for emergency use only. Go less than 50 miles, and at less than 50 mph.

 

 

Should I fill my tires with nitrogen?

 

The advantage of nitrogen is that it is less able to permeate through your tire walls, meaning that it’s easier to maintain your proper tire pressure. It also diffuses heat more effectively, which also leads to less fluctuation in pressure. Nitrogen will slow the aging of your tires, too! There’s a lot of reasons to choose nitrogen.

 

 

What’s the tire light on my dash mean?

 

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System is saying that you have low pressure in your tires. Check them! If multiple tires are low or if the problem repeats, you should check in with your mechanic.

 

 

Will any old tire do as a replacement?

 

No! You get what you pay for, so be sure to consult with a professional and invest in a high quality tire that will keep you safe on the road.

 

 

When do I need to rotate my tires?

 

Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles, or with every other oil change that you make. You’ll prevent uneven tire wear and gain a safer vehicle.

 

 

Vehicle Maintenance:

 

Why shouldn’t I postpone maintenance?

 

Postponing crucial maintenance could cost you more money in the long run! Many of your vehicle’s systems rely on one another. A breakdown in one could harm the others, leading to reduced fuel economy, costlier repairs, and other pricey problems.

 

 

How is my warranty voided?

 

If you fail to follow regular maintenance procedures at authorized auto shops, you could void your vehicle’s manufacturer warranty. For more details, check with your manufacturer – they are required by law to give you the information you need!

 

 

What do I do when my check engine light comes on?

 

Don’t ignore the warning! Come into your local shop for a diagnosis. Remember, all lights come on when you first start your vehicle – if the check engine light is on later, that’s when you should be worried.

 

 

Why do I need so much maintenance for my fuel system?

 

The modern fuel system is more streamlined than the old carburetor system, but it’s important to stay on top of maintenance. If you take the time to care for your fuel injection, intake valves, oxygen sensors, and other components, you’ll find that you gain increased fuel efficiency and a longer lasting, more effective engine than you would get from an old vehicle with a carburetor.

 

 

When do I need to invest in a tune-up?

 

Some manufacturers claim you won’t need a tune-up until 100,000 miles with certain spark plugs. This isn’t necessarily true. You’ll gain a noticeable boost in fuel economy if you replace spark plugs older than 50,000 miles, which means you’ll save on gas. So why wait to get the tune-up?

 

 

Do I need fluid flushes and chemical treatments?

 

Yes, you do! Your vehicle will last longer with quality lubricants. Chemicals can restore ph balances to protect internal workings from acidic substances, so chemicals are essential to most flushing services. Speak with us today to learn more.

 

 

Why do I have to replace my timing belt?

 

Your timing belt is connected to a lot of very important elements, and if it goes without warning you could end up with very expensive engine repairs on your hands. It’s much more cost-effective to replace an aging belt than it is to take on all of the repairs that could result from a belt failure.

 

 

Why is my check engine / service engine soon light on?

 

Your vehicle has lots of sensors checking its many systems. Problems with your systems will trigger these lights, so don’t ignore them! Bring your vehicle to us and let us have a look.

 

 

Do I need to replace my spark plugs?

 

Yes, every 30,000 miles – unless you have platinum-tipped 100,000 mile spark plugs.

 

 

What is maintenance? What is safety?

 

Maintenance is the proper upkeep of your car. Safety is what protects you and others on the road.

 

 

Should I check in with my mechanic as the seasons change?

 

Yes, it’s a good idea! Check your climate control and make sure that your coolant is ready for the new outside temperature.

 

 

Fluid Leaks:

 

What is this leak?

 

You might be able to tell yourself what fluid is leaking, using the color or consistency:

• Antifreeze leaks and overheated engines will show yellowish green, pastel blue, or florescent orange leaks. Check for bad hoses, water pumps, and leaking radiators.

• Oil leaks will be dark brown or black and oily. Look for bad seals or gaskets.

• Transmission fluid is red or pink

• Power steering fluid is light brown

• Differential fluid is brown

• Clear water is usually no problem – it could just be condensation from the air conditioner.

 

 

Vehicle smells and sounds:

 

What is this smell?

 

Check this list and see if you can identify the smell:

• Burned toast – this could be burning insulation. Check for a short, and don’t drive the vehicle until a technician looks at it!

• Rotten eggs – most likely a catalytic converter problem or an emissions problem. Come into our shop for help.

• Acrid, thick smell – check for burning oil and leaking oil.

• Gasoline vapors – if your car has failed to start, the engine could be flooded with oil. Wait before trying again, and come see us if the problem sticks around.

• Resin or chemical smell – overheated clutch or brakes. Check your emergency brake!

• Steamy, sweet smell – coolant leak. Keep an eye on that temperature gauge and come straight here – carefully! If you see any steam or other problems, have the vehicle towed.

 

 

What is that awful sound?

 

Tell us what you’re hearing!

• Squeal – shrill noise, usually related to engine speed.

• Click – sharp noise related to engine or vehicle speed.

• Screech – very high sound when the vehicle is in motion.

• Rumble – low and rhythmic

• Clunk – a thump, often without warning.

The better you can describe what you’re hearing, the better we can help you.

 

 

Is this sound bad enough to get checked?

 

Probably! It’s better to be safe than sorry. You’ll save money in the long run if you stay on top of your vehicle’s needs.

 

 

Oil Changes:

 

When do I need to change my oil?

 

Every 7,500 miles – more often if you put your car through tough conditions or tasks. If you drive on hot, dusty roads or cold, snowy ones, aim for more like 3,000 mile intervals.  

 

 

Why is my oil milky brown?

 

That could mean that coolant is in the oil. Look for gasket problems, and act fast. The issue could be serious, and may even be your head gasket.

 

 

Is synthetic motor oil a good choice?

 

Yes, especially for high performance vehicles or towing vehicles. Synthetic oil is more reliable, but costs more.

 

 

Troubleshooting:

 

My car is overheating. What do I do?

 

Pull over and shut off your engine! An overheated car can cause serious damage to your engine, so just get it towed. Don’t attempt to check fluid levels – you could scald yourself.

 

 

Which dashboard lights should I worry about?

 

Pay attention to all of them! Your engine light, oil light, ABS light, traction light, tire pressure light, and other alerts are all essential.

 

 

Electrical System:

 

How can I keep electrical connections strong in my vehicle?

 

Have your cables, batteries, and terminals routinely cleaned and inspected.

 

 

What do I do with a burned-out fuse?

 

Replace your old fuse with one of the same amperage. If you continue to have problems, come see us!

 

 

Fuel System:

 

How often should I replace my fuel filter?

 

Every 30,000 miles, or as recommended in your manual.

 

 

Gas Mileage:

 

How can I improve my vehicle’s mileage?

 

There are lots of effective ways to improve fuel mileage. Here are a few!

• Check your tire pressure. 5 psi low could cost you up to 10% of your fuel mileage!

• Check wheel alignment. Make sure that your tires are working together! Bad alignment can cost you up to 15%.

• Check or replace your filters. Air filters matter to your engine – by as much as 10%.

• Change your oil. This protects and lubricates your engine. Use the proper grade, or you’ll lots 1 or 2% of your fuel economy.

• Get a tune-up! Spark plugs, injectors, and throttles can all have problems that limit fuel mileage. Neglecting these can cost you 4% of your fuel mileage.

• Empty your vehicle of unnecessary heavy items.

• Check your warning lights! Problems with your car can cost you dearly in fuel mileage.

• Observe the speed limit. It’s there for a reason!

 

 

Air Filters:

 

What does my cabin air filter do?

 

The cabin air filter removes gases, odors, and other nasty contaminants from the air inside your vehicle.

 

 

How long have air filters been around?

 

In cars, air filters are relatively new – they’ve only been in American vehicles since 1994.

 

 

Is my cabin air filter the same as my engine’s?

 

Nope! Your cabin air filter is more advanced and screens for different media.

 

 

Are air filters important?

 

Yes, very. Air filters protect your health and the air you breathe.

 

 

Where is my air filter?

 

Usually, air filter are located behind your vehicle’s glove compartment or dashboards. They are sometimes in the engine compartment.

 

 

When should I replace my cabin air filter?

 

Once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for more information.

 

 

Why do I need to replace my air filter?

 

Fail to replace your air filter, and you’ll experience more unpleasant odors and less healthy air.

Frequently asked questions

Trust our more than 40 years of experience.

714-985-9940