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How to Save a Fortune Caring For Your Car

Many people don’t realize how much money they can save if they were to just take the time to do some simple things for their car. Every one is busy today, with work and relationships and lots of other stresses, but taking ten minutes out of your hectic schedule to do some simple care care maintenance, can save you time and money in the long run.

Here are some common mistakes people make with their cars:

1) Not making sure their tires are inflated properly – There is no real guess work involved here, recommended tire pressure is clearly printed on the tire. One thing you do need to buy if you don’t have one, is a tire pressure gauge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, many reliable gauges cost just around five dollars, less in many cases.

Proper tire inflation can help in a number of ways. First is that a properly inflated tire can save gas, a precious commodity these days. Having tires with the right amount of pressure makes them last longer, and do their job better. Over or under inflated tires could blow out, causing an accident, or you have to replace or repair it. If you have to use a spare, don’t drive around on it like a normal tire, they aren’t designed to drive around on, just enough to get you to a repair shop.

2) Not checking fluid levels (or not checking them properly) – An automatic transmission should be checked when warm, with the car in neutral with the parking brake on. Engine oil should be checked with the car warm, but turned off. Radiator fluid levels should only be checked when the car is cold, because if you check it when the car is hot, the pressure build up in the radiator could cause serious burns.

3) Do it yourself oil changes, or skipping regularly scheduled lubrication – Changing your own oil, while is seems like a good alternative, isn’t, because you have to raise the car, drain the oil, which is messy, and then you are stuck with trying to dispose of the used oil.

Taking your vehicle to a lube shop is much better, because they check and top off everything, lubricate the chassis, and more, for one low price. If you do the math, not only is it cheaper, but it usually is finished in ten minutes, compared to the hours spent doing it on your own.

4) Not having regular brake inspections, or not changing the pads often enough – That incessant squeal every time you apply the brake is a warning that the pads have worn down to the studs, and are scraping against the drums and rotors. Taking the time to have the brakes changed, for under two hundred dollars in most cases, is a lot cheaper than having to replace the rotors and drums.

5) Not making sure the gas cap is tight – If your engine light comes on, it could be telling you that your gas cap is loose, and air is interfering with your fuel intake. By making sure your gas cap is on properly, you won’t have to take your vehicle in to get checked for something this simple.

How to Change the Oil in Your Car Or Truck

The oil in your vehicles engine is one of the main components that keep it healthy. There are two things that above all else you need to do to it. Check it often (at least once a month) and make sure it stays clean. The oil helps lubricate the moving parts, helps disperse the heat, improves sealing, and helps keep the inside of your engine clean. Oil is to your engine like blood is to your body, a necessity.

There are three main types of motor oils: conventional, synthetic, and synthetic blend. Conventional motor oil is the least expensive and is basically a by product of the crude oil refining process. It is prone to quicker deterioration, especially when exposed to high levels of heat. Synthetic motor oil is more expensive because it is developed from chemical compounds, making it far cleaner and more stable than conventional motor oil. It’s also able to maintain it’s viscosity, or flow, in most temperatures better than conventional motor oil. The viscosity index is a measure of how much the oil’s viscosity changes as temperature changes. A higher viscosity index indicates the viscosity changes less with temperature than a lower viscosity index. Synthetic blends combine some of the properties of both of the other types of motor oil. This allows the manufacturers to keep the cost more in line with conventional oil. Synthetic blends are basically a conventional motor oil with high performance elements added to help it burn cleaner and withstand greater temperatures than conventional motor oil.

Your oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Refer to your owners manual or ask at your parts store what is recommended by your vehicles manufacturer for your engine. You’ll also need to know what size engine is in your vehicle to get the proper oil filter and proper amount of oil. Most average engines hold 4 to 6 quarts.

The first step in every installation is verifying you have everything to do the installation. You will need a solid, level place to work, a way to elevate the vehicle if you can’t get under it. A floor jack and stands or drive on ramps are the easiest ways. A ratchet and socket or wrench the proper size for your oil drain plug, a oil drain pan, a oil filter wrench, a funnel, disposable gloves, and the new filter and oil.

Tip: Warm oil drains faster than cold oil, but hot oil will burn you. I wouldn’t recommend running the engine for more than 10 minutes before you change the oil because you will get a little on your hand.

Tip: Open the hood and place the oil on top of the engine. You don’t want to forget to put the new oil in the engine.

Once the front of the vehicle is securely supported, crawl under it and locate the oil pan on the bottom of the engine. Usually near the front center of the vehicle and slightly behind or between the front tires. Consult your owners manual or search for a diagram online if you can’t find it. Locate the drain plug.

Place the oil drain pan underneath the plug and loosen the plug with a socket or wrench. Remember lefty loosey and righty tighty.

Remove the plug by hand and hang on to it. Otherwise you’ll be fishing through the oil to dig it out.

After the oil drains, wipe off the plug and plug opening and replace the plug. It’s always good to start all bolts by hand so you know they are not cross-threaded. Tighten with socket or wrench. It needs to be really snug but don’t over tighten it.

Locate the existing filter. Oil filters are usually on the lower side of the engine in front of the oil pan.

Position the oil drain pan under the filter and use an adjustable filter wrench to loosen the oil filter and drain any remaining oil.

Wipe the surface where the filter mounts to the engine and make sure the rubber seal off the filter is not stuck to the engine.

Use some new oil to lightly coat the rubber seal on the new filter and install the filter. Again the filter needs to be snug but most of the time as tight as you can get it with your hands is perfect.

Grab your tools, the oil drain pan and slide out. The hard part is done.

Locate the oil filler cap and remove it from the top of the engine.

Place the funnel in the opening and add the new oil. Keep a check on the level using the dipstick.

Replace cap and run the engine for a minute. This allows the filter to fill up.

Check the dipstick and add more oil if necessary.

Check the area around the drain plug and oil filter for leaks.

Clean up any spilled oil and pour the used oil in a container to drop off at your local recycling center. Please don’t pour it on the ground or in the sewer.

You just saved yourself a few bucks and you have the satisfaction of knowing this project was done right. Order your oil and filter today and start making plans for changing it next weekend.

Changing the Oil and Filter Safely and Correctly

24Changing the engine oil and filter are the simplest and single most important maintenance task for the DIY owner. As engine oil ages, it becomes diluted and contaminated, which leads to premature engine wear. Half an hour of work can make your engine live longer and perform better.

Before starting the work, get everything you need close to hand. You will need plenty of clean rags and newspapers handy, you’re bound to get spills somewhere along the line!. Start the job straight after a run in the car as the oil will drain more easily, and any sludge build up will be mixed up in the oil and drain at the same time. Remember – the exhaust and any other hot parts of the engine can cause bad burns when working under the vehicle so take care to avoid them, its a good idea to wear gloves when you do this to avoid any possibility of scalding, and to protect yourself from any skin irritants and possible contaminants in used engine oils.

Firmly apply the handbrake, then jack up the front of the vehicle and support it on axle stands or a sturdy pair of ramps, remember that the engine should slope towards the drain hole ideally

Remove the oil filler cap.

To make things easier, unscrew the fasteners and remove the plastic shield below the engine.

Using a spanner, or even better a socket and bar, slack off the drain plug on the bottom of the sump about half a turn before you put whatever you are draining the oil into under the drain plug, then remove the plug completely.(make sure the container is big enough to take the oil and bear in mind the oil itself will be hot)

Allow some time for the oil to drain, bear in mind to reposition the container as the oil flow slows to a halt.

After all the oil has drained out, wipe the drain plug and the sealing washer with a clean rag. At this point check the sealing washer, and renew it if it shows signs of damage which may prevent an oil-tight seal (it makes sense to fit a new washer every time, they are as cheap as chips). Clean around the drain plug opening, and refit the plug complete with washer then tighten it securely without overtightening.

Move the container into position under the oil filter which is on the rear of the cylinder block.

Use an oil filter removal tool if the filter is too tight to unscrew, then unscrew it by hand the rest of the way. Empty the oil from the old filter into the container, then poke a hole in the top of the filter with an old screwdriver or similar,and drain the rest of the oil from the filter into the container.

Using a clean rag remove all oil, dirt and gunge from the area where the filter fastens and seals on the engine.

Lubricate the sealing ring on the new filter with clean engine oil, then screw the filter into position on the engine. Tighten the filter firmly by hand only – there is no need to use any tools, it seals better this way.

Remove the old oil everything else from under the vehicle, refit the undershield, and lower the vehicle to the ground.

With the car on level ground, fill the engine, using the correct grade and type of oil. An oil can spout or funnel will help to reduce spillage. Pour in half the total of oil you need to fill the engine first, then wait a few minutes for the oil to run reach the sump.

Continue adding oil a little at a time until the level reaches the MIN mark on the dipstick. A litre of oil will now bring the level up to the MAX on the dipstick – don’t worry if a bit too much goes in, as some of the excess will be taken up in filling the oil filter. Refit the dipstick and put the filler cap back on.

Start and run the engine for a few minutes, and check for leaks around the oil filter seal and the sump drain plug. There may be a delay of a few seconds before the low oil pressure warning light goes out when the engine is first started, as the oil circulates through the new oil filter and the rest of the engine before the pressure builds up.

Stop the engine, and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle in the sump again.Now the new oil has circulated and the filter is completely full, recheck the level on the dipstick, and add more oil if necessary.

Its important to dispose of the used engine oil and the old oil filter safely, your local recycling points have containers for waste oil, with oil filter disposal bins as well, DON’T tip oil down the drain!

Tips for the Maintenance of Your Car

When people get cars, they think that they can just drive it around and hope that nothing goes wrong with it. This is not the case and this is sometimes a very dangerous and expensive position to put yourself in.

If you are and passed your driving test recently, you will know that you have to know a few things about maintaining your car, before you can even pass the test. When you are having your practical test, you have to point some things out to the tester, before you are even allowed in the car. If you don’t know how to do this, then you will lose points and you might end up failing the test.

Therefore, it is worth learning how to maintain your car before you think about buying a new one. You will be better off in the long run because maintenance is always cheaper than repairing. Not only will you be making sure that the car is safe, you will also be saving yourself some money.

If you have no idea how to maintain your vehicle, then you have done the right thing by searching on Google for tips and finding this article because the aim of this article is to educate new drivers (and some old drivers) on how to maintain their vehicle.

Regular maintenance checks

You should have your car booked in for regular maintenance checks. You can get this done at any good MOT test centre because they will be more experience in servicing vehicles.

You will have to pay for this and some people think that because they have a new car, they don’t have to get their car serviced or have it checked for maintenance. This is wrong. It is not against the law or anything, but you should do it to make sure the car is safe.


You should be aiming to check the oil once a month. When you are doing this, you should wait until the car has cooled down before you open the bonnet so that you don’t burn yourself.

You might not know what you are looking for, but if you pull the dip stick out, you are looking to make sure that the oil level is below the maximum level, but above the minimum level. If it is below the minimum then you need to top the oil up. The procedure for topping up the oil is different for each car, so check the handbook that came with the car.


You need to check the pressure on your tyres. This is to make sure they are safe to use on the road. If you have good pressure on your tyres, it will save you some money on your petrol.

While you are checking the pressure, you can also check the treads. You need to have tyres that have more than 1.6mm left on their treads. Anything less than this and you are running the risk of skidding and causing an accident. If your tyres look worn or there are patches on them, you need to change the tyres as soon as possible.


When lights flicker on your dashboard, they are telling you that something is wrong. Sometimes those lights are irritating, but you should not ignore them. The dashboard is how the car communicates with you, so if the check engine light is on, check the engine; if the skid light is on, check the tyres. This is the only way you can make sure that the car is road worthy.

How To Care For Your Car Tires Properly

Your car is one of the most important items you own. It gets you to where you need to go, and for many people, a car is something used for priority activities almost every single day. For that reason, it is extremely important to do what you can to take care it the way that it needs. By doing that, you can extend the life of your car in many ways. As you strive to take care of your car, do not neglect the tires, as these items usually take most of the wear and tear a car receives from everyday use.

The state of your tires can be one of the deciding factors in many functions of your car, including manual control, gas mileage, and more. By taking care of these babies, you essentially take care of yourself. Because tires tend to wear down after a while, it is very important that you keep an eye on the state of the tread and the amount of air in your tires. A good time to check these things is just before a snowy or rainy season.

Good tires, especially on a vehicle that has 4 wheel or front wheel drive, can be the deciding factor of your safety in bad weather. Tires without a good tread or that are not well equipped to snow roads will quickly find themselves sliding off of these roads, heading towards potentially dangerous and harmful situations. However, almost every car can be equipped with good tires that are designed to keep you safe while driving.

Before the snow starts to fall, take your car in to a shop or to someone who is experienced in cars and tires, so that you can find out the real state of your tires, and what you might be able to do to improve the performance of your car, and protect you and your passengers. It may be important as well to check the air in your tires, and have them filled and rotated at this time as well.

Keeping the air in your tires to the preferred level can do a lot to save you money in the long run as well. This air helps your engine to utilize the gasoline in a way that you can actually get better mileage to the gallon. Air is usually found free at your local gasoline station, and thus can be accessible to you at almost any time of the day.

Should you have any problems with your tires, be sure to either repair or replace them immediately. By doing this, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration.

By doing these simple things, you can do a lot to extend the life of your car, protect your safety, and take advantage of the benefits that a well-working car can extend to you every single day. There is a lot more information available on things that can help you to take care of your tires that can be found on the internet, or through other sources that are close to you.

How to Prolong Your Car Engine’s Life

The engine is one of the most important components of your car and this should be maintained regularly. This is because the engine performs the basic function of providing power for the car and allows it to run or move from one place to another. Due to this, there is a great need for both expensive and cheap new car owners to make sure that the engines of their vehicles are in good shape. It is therefore important for car owners to determine and understand some of the basic tips in preserving the life of their cars’ engines. In case you want to extend the life of your vehicle’s engine and you are to sell the car after your auto financing obligations are settled, try to do some of things below.

1. Practice regular change oil

The car’s engine oil serves as the vehicle’s blood. Given this, you need to make sure that the oil inside the engine is clean as well as capable of lubricating and cooling the internal components found inside.  Due to this, it is advisable that you change oil regularly.

All you need to do is take your vehicle to the nearest car service center for an oil change. However, you can also change your vehicle’s oil by yourself.  All you need to do is look for useful car advice online regarding this particular car maintenance task. Changing the car engine’s oil on your own could save you from incurring extra expenses.

2. Drive carefully

You also need to drive your car carefully so as to extend the life of its engine. Try to avoid jackrabbit starts and sudden brakes for this would create strains as well as possible damages on the engine. Inappropriate driving practices could also create wild RPM fluctuations and generate heat that is harmful. Try to drive your car like a gentleman at moderate speeds.

3. Have your car engine regularly tuned-up

Aside from driving carefully and changing the car’s oil regularly, you need to have your vehicle regularly tuned-up. This will ensure that the engine runs smoothly. For better results, it is advisable that you take your car to a professional mechanic for servicing since the mechanic is trained to do the appropriate procedures to tune the car up. But if you want to save money and do the tune-up by yourself, all you need to do is to conduct the needed research on how to do the procedures.

Change Your Oil

One of the most important elements you must be aware of if you want to keep your car and engine in a perfect working condition is to regularly change the oil.

Oil plays a very important part in the well functioning of your engine, as it is used to lubricate all the moving elements. Your engine will run cleaner if you take care of it and change the oil when it gets older. With time, due to the conditions the motor runs, the oil will get dirty and will lose its initial properties, and will not protect your engine parts efficiently. Do not forget to always change the oil filter when you change the oil itself, because if not, the fresh oil will get contaminated from start with dirt and particles from the old fluid. Fresh oil makes no difference if the filter is clogged.

It is recommended to change the engine oil after each 3000 miles. For some cars, this number can be doubled. Consult the car’s owner’s manual and check the producer’s recommendations. Most producers will have mentioned two different intervals for changing the oil. One is for people who use the car in light conditions, while the other, shorter, is for those who operate their vehicles in difficult conditions (extreme temperatures, in dusty or in very crowded areas).

Check that the car is in park and the emergency brake is pulled before getting to change the oil. Remember; take every safety measures before starting working. You might also ask someone to assist in with the process.

Here the steps you must follow to change your oil.

First, loosen the drain plug. Just loosen it and do not remove it.

Next, grab the drain pan and fix it under the drain plug and let the old oil drain itself in the pan.

The next step is to change the oil filter. You might find it a challenge to loosen the old one, but in the end it will loosen and come off. Be advised that it will still have oil in its pipes and be careful not to stain yourself.

When all the oil has drained from the car, rearrange the drain plug in inverse order.

Now it is time to install the new filter. To install it easily, lubricate its threads and the sealing rubber with new oil and screw it into position.

After removing the engine oil cap, grab the new oil canister and pour it through the funnel into the motor.

Do not overfill. Read in the manual the amount of oil you will have to pour.

Before starting the engine, take one last look to be sure that no oil is leaking.

Do not drive your car just now. Let it with the engine running for a couple of minutes so the new oil will start lubricating the motor. Also, check that no oil leaks appear.

Verify the amount of oil you added by looking at the oil dip stick while engine is cold

In the end, do not dump the used oil in the drains. It can be reused part of the recycling programs. and remember, before you start working on your car; always consult the owner’s manual.


If you have a motorbike, you know how essential it really is to maintain it in good shape. In fact, a little problem can certainly make you stuck if it’s not addressed rapidly. You will need to stop at a mechanic shop.

Whilst you might want to learn how to do the maintenance tasks on your own, it’s important that they’re accomplished by a skilled technician. Of course, there can be other fundamental difficulties, and you may not notice it. A specialist auto mechanic is fully aware of exactly what underlying difficulties to look for to help them to be sure that your street motorcycle is completely repaired. They are going to also ensure that any kind of motorcycle repair tampa fl they actually do is going to be completed with high-quality components and is also going to be well done. An expert auto technician will not cut corners with your motorcycle’s repairs, mainly because they know how vital it truly is that everything is done right.

To discover a excellent repair service organization, seek out one which is nationally celebrated for their repairs along with other services. This enables you to know that they really are serious about doing high quality work and also that you will be delighted with the work they do on your motorcycle.

Car Insurance For Teenage Drivers

teen driver in good mood with black car, selective focus on eyes

The statistics about teenage drivers aren’t good. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16-year-olds get into accidents almost six times more often than drivers between the age of 30 and 59. No wonder car insurance premiums are so high for this age group.

However, not all car insurance companies take the same dim view of young drivers. And some discounts are available to help you cut costs. Remember, the higher the risk, the higher the cost of insurance premiums. Let this be your guiding principle as you shop for insurance.

Here are 10 suggestions to help lower premiums and keep your teenager’s license free of violations:

1. Help your teen learn the laws and follow them to the letter. By far, the best way to lower car insurance costs for teens is for them to keep their driving record clean. Make safe driving a family project. In some states, restrictions apply to new drivers. Parents should know what the laws are and insist that their sons and daughters follow them.

2. Set a good example. Do you break the speed limit and tailgate? Do you yell at other drivers when you’re behind the wheel? If you do these things, how can you expect your children to act differently? Start watching your own driving long before they get their license and you’ll have a much easier time convincing them to be safe drivers. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

3. Put your teenager on your policy. Rather than setting up an independent policy for your teen driver, put them on your auto insurance policy as an additional driver. In this way, all the discounts applied to your policies will be passed on to them.

4. Pay your teenager to get good grades. Here’s a creative tip — find out how much you save if your teenager gets a good grade point average and pass it on to them. Usually, having a 3.0 or higher GPA will reduce your car insurance premium by 10 percent. Figure out exactly how much this saves you and give that money to your teenager. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides a direct reward for academic performance. Secondly, it motivates them to continue getting good grades.

5. Enroll them in driver education courses. Discounts are available for teens who take recognized driving classes. But call your car insurance company to find out which schools are covered before paying big bucks.

6. Steer clear of sports cars. Don’t try to live vicariously through your teenager by giving them the hot car you couldn’t get in high school. Getting your teenager a safe car to drive, with the latest safety equipment, will lower your premiums. Not only will you save money on car insurance, but fast driving will be less of a temptation.

7. Get their support. Don’t assume that your teenager wants to vacuum clean your wallet. Ask them for help cutting costs and point out that you will share in the savings (see rule #4). Tell them how much car insurance costs and show them how this fits into the family budget. If nothing else, you will score points for treating them as adults.

8. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. This is a tough subject to broach with teenagers, who think they have everything under control. But the consequences of saying nothing can be catastrophic. Take the time to lay down some guidelines in this important area.

9. Take traffic school to beat tickets. Once a ticket is on your teen’s license, it takes months to get the violation removed. Instead, encourage them to take traffic school if the judge allows it. A day spent thinking about the consequences of unsafe driving can bring rewards for years to come.

10. Ride with your teenager. Your teenager was a safe driver last year when he or she got a license. But what’s happened since then? Let your son or daughter take the wheel while you sit back and relax in the passenger seat. If you see them doing something that breaks rules or seems unsafe, point this out in a diplomatic way. If they are doing a good job driving, praise them for their efforts.

If you follow the above suggestions, you will find that you can make it through the teenage years safely — and without paying an arm and a leg for car insurance. It just takes cooperation and understanding from both sides of the generation gap.


If your car’s “Check Engine” light is glaring at you, it’s probably because the oxygen sensor is malfunctioning. That’s right, the oxygen sensor. It’s a little device that’s a mystery for most drivers but its misbehavior is the problem that most commonly triggers a Check Engine light, according to, which sells an automotive diagnostic tool and provides repair information. The oxygen sensor unseats the formerly most common Check Engine light culprit: a loose gas cap. There are fewer reports of that problem because savvy motorists have learned to fix it themselves and consumers now buy new cars with capless gas tanks.

But don’t despair. Replacing your car oxygen sensor will keep you from wasting money by burning extra gas, and the repair isn’t horribly expensive. We know this firsthand. We had to replace the O2 sensor on our 1996 Lexus ES 300, the subject of our Debt-Free Car project, and it wasn’t as much of a hassle or expense as we had feared.

After the dreaded Check Engine light appeared in our Lexus, we plugged the CarMD device into the car’s computer to read the error code. In our case, the code was P0135, which meant that the oxygen sensor in “bank 1” was malfunctioning. It was surprising to learn that something was wrong with the car, since it still seemed to be running fine.

Even though a car seems to be behaving normally, a faulty oxygen sensor will cause the engine to start “gulping down gas,” says Kristin Brocoff, director of corporate communications for She says this problem can cause up to a 40 percent reduction in fuel economy. Sure enough, when we checked our fuel record for the driving we did while the Check Engine light was on, our mpg had taken a hit.

The oxygen sensor, developed in the early 1980s, is an essential part of the car’s emissions control system, says John Nielsen, director of engineering and repair for the American Automobile Association (AAA). The sensor is about the size and shape of a spark plug and protrudes into the car engine’s exhaust stream. It determines if there is a lot or a little oxygen in the exhaust, so the engine can make adjustments to the amount of fuel being used in the engine to run at maximum efficiency.

Oxygen sensors in older cars fail for a variety of reasons, according to Bosch, a leading manufacturer of auto components. In some cases, sensors are fouled by gasoline additives or oil from worn engines. Newer oxygen sensors can last 100,000 miles if conditions are right, but often problems occur sooner.

After we plugged CarMD’s diagnostic device into the Lexus’ onboard computer port, we connected it to our desktop computer. It accessed a database of information about this engine code and how to have it repaired. Among other things, the report included an average estimate just to buy a new oxygen sensor: $168.82.

At the first sight of a Check Engine light, most owners of new cars that are still under the factory warranty would simply make a beeline for the dealership’s service bay. But car owners on a budget might want to go the do-it-yourself diagnosis route to save money. By using the CarMD device, or any engine code reader, drivers can learn what the problem is, and the skill level required to fix it, before attempting the task.

Modern cars have two to four oxygen sensors, Nielsen says. A V6 engine, such as the one in our Lexus, has one sensor in each exhaust manifold and one after the catalytic converter. The sensors simply screw into place, but reaching them can be a problem for do-it-yourselfers. Additionally, since the exhaust subjects the sensor to extreme heat, it can “seize” (become frozen in place) and be tough to unscrew. A new sensor comes with anti-seize compound to apply to the threads, but the compound should never be put on the sensor itself.

Nielsen says that while a code reader might indicate that the problem is the car oxygen sensor, there are other problems that can trigger the identical code — a disconnected vacuum hose will do it, for example.

As a first step, a car owner can look under the hood to see if there are any wires or hoses disconnected, Nielsen says. In some cases, a wire leading to the oxygen sensor could be broken or burned out. If nothing obvious is visibly awry, it’s time to go to what Nielsen calls “a trusted mechanic.” Reputable garages use an expensive diagnostic machine called a scan tool — not to be confused with an inexpensive code reader — that can watch the operation of the engine in real time and see if the oxygen sensor is actually the problem.

“Most motorists would be well served to find a shop that they trust and take their car there for all oil changes and tire rotations,” Nielsen suggests. “Then, when they have a problem with something like an oxygen sensor, they trust what the mechanic is saying rather than thinking that they’re trying to rip you off.”

In our case, we learned that the faulty O2 sensor was in the rear of the engine and difficult to reach, so the fix seemed above our skill level. Instead, we took the Lexus to Overseas Garage, in Long Beach, California. There, the mechanic told us that the new sensor would cost $117, plus $144 in labor for a total of $261. This was close to the $246 average cost cited by CarMD’s Brocoff.

While many people opt to simply ignore “Check Engine” lights, Brocoff says this can cause bigger, more costly problems later. “So the problem you could have fixed for a few hundred dollars turns into a repair of the catalytic converter, which would be over a thousand.”

Driving back from the garage, it was a relief not to stare at the glowing check engine light. This made us realize that fixing such a problem provides another benefit: peace of mind.