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Last updated on: March 8, 2021  

Five Reasons Why Your Check Engine Light Might Come On


Your vehicle’s “check engine” light is designed to warn you of a potential problem. The best approach is to schedule an appointment with a licensed mechanic as soon as possible. With the use of advanced diagnostic equipment, they can quickly track down the source of your trouble. Let’s take a look at five most common reasons why your check engine light might come on.


1. Spark Plugs Have Worn Out


It’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to have your spark plugs replaced. While some of today’s spark plugs are rated to last for up to 100,000 miles, the life expectancy can vary greatly from one model to the next. As your spark plugs begin to burn out, expect to notice some obvious performance issues. Rough idling, hesitation, and hard starting can all indicate bad spark plugs.


Your vehicle’s onboard computer can tell when the spark plugs aren’t performing well. Multiple engine misfires will eventually trigger the check engine light. Don’t wait too long to visit a repair shop for a tune-up. Not only will your gas mileage take a big hit, but you also risk damaging the engine. While your vehicle is at the shop, the service technicians will also check the condition of the spark plug wires. Over time, hot engine temperatures can cause the insulation on the wires to break down.


2. Loose Gas Cap


It’s easy to forget to tighten your gas cap. This is especially true when you're rushing to get somewhere. If the check engine light has turned on after refueling, there’s a good chance your gas cap is loose.


While a loose gas cap may not seem like a big problem, it can be more serious than you think. The gas cap is a critical part of your vehicle’s evaporative emission’s system. When the gas cap is loose or missing, fumes are released into the atmosphere. This definitely contributes to environmental pollution. You should also consider the fact that you’re wasting gas.


If your gas cap isn’t properly sealing, it may be time to purchase a new one. Luckily, replacements are not expensive. After installing the new gas cap, your check engine light should turn off within a few minutes of driving.


3. Catalytic Converter Has Failed


Every vehicle is required by law to have at least one catalytic converter. The purpose of this component is to reduce harmful exhaust emissions. It features a honeycomb-structured ceramic material, which helps capture certain toxins.


On average, you can expect a catalytic converter to last for at least 10 years. However, poor vehicle maintenance often causes it to wear out much sooner than expected. For instance, worn spark plugs can cause raw fuel to collect inside the catalytic converter. Oil leaks can be just as problematic.


If your catalytic converter isn’t doing its job, the check engine light will be activated. A bad catalytic converter can also lead to a loss of power. The internal material can start to break apart, thus causing an excessive amount of exhaust pressure. In severe cases, your engine will stall.


Remember, a worn catalytic converter will ultimately cause your vehicle to fail its smog test. While new catalytic converters can be expensive, they do come with a confidence-inspiring warranty.


4. Vacuum Hose Leaking


A leaky vacuum hose can definitely cause the check engine light to come on. These lines help the engine to run smoother by lowering the amount of internal pressure. However, it’s not uncommon for vacuum hoses to spring a leak. High heat, gunk, and other factors can cause them to crack.


When a vacuum hose has broken, it allows unmetered air to enter the engine. You’ll experience many of the same symptoms that stem from worn spark plugs, including rough engine vibrations and backfiring. To fix the issue, your mechanic will need to replace the damaged vacuum line.


To prevent problems from occurring, it’s a good idea to have your vacuum lines regularly inspected for signs of wear. By getting the hose ahead of time, you can save yourself a lot of extra stress.


5. An O2 Sensor Has Failed


Every vehicle has a minimum of at least two oxygen sensors. By monitoring the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system, they help the computer to maintain the correct fuel mixture. While too much fuel will cause the engine to run rich, too little fuel will lead to a lean-running engine.


Although O2 sensors are quite durable, harsh conditions cause them to gradually deteriorate. A failing O2 sensor will activate your vehicle’s check engine light. Issues, such as engine skipping and poor fuel economy, also may occur. Some people may suggest cleaning your oxygen sensors. However, this is not an effective solution. The best approach is to have them replaced by a certified mechanic.


Get in touch with Kadotani Auto Repair in Watsonville. We can determine why your check engine light is on.

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Last updated on: February 11, 2021  

Why Does My Car Shake When I Accelerate


You’re driving along and suddenly you notice a shaking or a feeling of vibration. You wonder what’s wrong. You say why is my car shaking? There could be many reasons why your car is shaking when you accelerate. You think to yourself, could it be the brakes, the tires, the engine or something else? Well, here are some possible causes why your car is shaking and what you can do about it.


Brakes/Brake Caliper


You know it could be your brakes causing the shaking or vibrating, especially when you hit the brakes. Look at your brake rotors. The discs or rotors are under constant pressure from everyday use, general friction, wear and tear and any moisture that may have accumulated. Any wear or friction can cause damage or unevenness to the rotor. The actual wearing can be minimal, but it can also be extreme. When the rotor is uneven or badly worn, the brake pads will no longer grip properly and you’ll feel shaking or vibration as the brake pads are having a hard time gripping the rotors.


You can machine a warped rotor to work out the unevenness, but in many cases a warped or damaged rotor will require replacement. You’ll need experience to replace a worn rotor, so it’s best to have a trained mechanic do the work


A stuck brake caliper can also cause brake vibration. The caliper is the device that the brake pads are attached to, and a caliper pushes the brake pads to take hold of the rotors when you apply the brakes. Calipers can get stuck and when they do, you’ll experience shaking or a powerful pull to one side or the other. A caliper that’s stuck is a more significant issue and should be in the hands of a trained professional.




When you feel vibration or shaking with your vehicle, chances are that your tires could be causing the problem and checking them is the one place you should look. If your tires are uneven, bald, worn or unbalanced all of those issues could cause shakiness.


Tires simply aren’t long lasting. They may need replacement, even with the best of care. Rotating your tires and maintaining proper tire pressure will increase their usefulness over time, but if you’re not following maintenance procedures, you’ll probably experience wear and tire deterioration, which can cause your car to shake.


There are other related causes for tire vibration that include improper wheel alignment, under or over-inflated tires, suspension problems, tire rotation, worn tires and separated tread. Separated tread from tires can cause shakiness, and that’s because of over-inflated tires. This is usually an issue that requires replacement of tires, which should happen as soon as possible.


Axle/CV Joints


When your car is involved in accidents or you drive too fast and hit bumps, potholes or curbs, you could do damage to your axle, which just might cause your car to shake. Any kind of impact that causes damage to your axle creates a serious problem. A damaged axle will cause your suspension to vibrate and can cause more involved shaking. If your axle receives damages or is badly bent, you have a major issue on your hands, which a trained professional should handle immediately.


In relation to your axle, there are CV joints that are found at the end of drive axles. They are covered in a rubber boot. Axle boots keep grime, dirt and debris away, plus they help contain the axle grease. Worn or torn boots can also cause shakiness while driving. With any tears or brokenness, the CV joint will lose its ability to lubricate and will take in dirt and debris. If you drive with damaged CV joints, you’ll get suspension vibration and may end up replacing both the CV joints and the drive axles. When you hear clicking or clunking type noises when making a turn, it could be a defective CV joint.




Uneven and sporadic engine vibration could be a sign that something that's amiss in your engine is causing the shakiness. It could be anything such as faulty spark plugs that hinder your vehicle. An engine needs both fuel and air along with that spark. The lack of these attributes can cause poor engine performance that leads to engine vibration. You may become aware of jerking or shaking upon acceleration or you may notice shakiness at certain speeds or when driving a certain amount of time.


When you experience any of these issues, the first thing you want to do is check your spark plugs. If they're not working correctly or are damaged, your engine will perform sporadically. When the plugs are undamaged, it could be a problem with the spark plug wires. You may need to either adjust or replace them.


If there is nothing wrong with the spark plugs or spark plug wires, there could be problems with the air or fuel filter. Dirt or clogging with either of these parts can limit your engine of air or fuel, which can lead to vibration and rough running. If that's the case, replacing either one is easy and not expensive.


Motor/Engine Mounts


Motor or engine mounts keep your engine in place. They’re made of rubber and metal and attach or bracket your car’s engine to the frame. The rubber found in motor mounts performs the function of decreasing any vibrations that go along with an engine’s everyday performance. Just like other parts in your vehicle, the motor mounts, whether the rubber or metal component, can wear out with time. Both are unable to cushion as well, and vibrations will occur. The problem can be resolved with new motor mounts. Also, make sure the motor mounts are properly placed to prevent not only vibrations but any other costly damage.


Wheel Alignment


Though a wheel alignment in itself won't cause vibrations or shakiness, an alignment that doesn't meet exact specifications can lead to other problems that cause shaking. A wheel alignment that’s not to specifications can lead to other problems that cause shaking. Check the wear on your tires and whether they're worn unevenly. The wear on your tires could be because of an alignment problem with your car. Any unevenness with your tires along with vibration in the steering column are indicators that you may need a wheel alignment.


Properly maintaining your vehicle means getting wheel alignments at particular intervals, especially when you reach the stage of worn tires and steering column vibrations. It’s something that’s not that expensive, plus it’s a fairly simple process and a trained and certified automotive expert can do it for you.


If you’re having problems with vehicle shakiness or vibrations, get in touch with Kadotani Auto Repair in Watsonville, California. They’ll help you resolve those shakes when you accelerate and give you the best service for what is ailing your vehicle.

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Last updated on: January 13, 2021  

How to Find The Best Auto Mechanic In Your Town For Vehicle Maintenance

When it comes to owning a car, it's important to provide proper maintenance to ensure it continues to be reliable and operates well each day. Finding a reputable auto mechanic in the local area is necessary to ensure you can trust their expertise, and they handle your car like their own. If you want to learn how to find the best auto mechanic in your town, there are a few important tips to follow.


auto mechanic talking with customer


Read Online Reviews


One of the best ways you can find the best mechanic in town is by hearing what other people are saying about the services provided. Consider reading reviews online to get insight into other people's experiences. You can learn a lot about how quickly the technician works and if they perform the repairs or maintenance correctly.


You can also check the Better Business Bureau to look for any complaints that have been filed. If customers have had serious issues, then it's best to move on to someone different in the industry.


Ask for Recommendations


Before there were advertisements and billboards, people found different car mechanics in the area by word of mouth. Ask your family member and friends for recommendations based on who they use to ensure you can hire someone you can trust to work on your car. You can also ask people on your social media platforms if they have any recommendations if you want to get more options from multiple people in minutes.


Look at Licensing and Certification


Although there are many people who enjoy working on cars and know how to work with their hands, it doesn't mean they're licensed or certified. It can be easy to spend less and visit someone who is passionate about cars, but it can also lead to damage to your vehicle if the professional isn't licensed to perform the work. When narrowing down your options in the local area, check their licensing and certification in advance to verify if they're reputable.


There's a high level of risk that comes with hiring a mechanic that isn't licensed, which can cause your warranty to be voided. It's important to also look into the number of years they've been in business, their experience, and what schools they attended to determine their level of training and expertise.


Check Their Prices


One of the main factors that determine the mechanic you take your car to for maintenance should be their prices to ensure their rates are fair and work with your budget. It's important to research the industry standard for different types of maintenance and repairs to have something to compare their rates to before you schedule an appointment. Avoid hiring the first person you receive a quote from and shop around to get the best price.


In some cases, it may not be wise to visit a mechanic with the lowest rates because it can mean they're cutting corners. Most mechanics have overhead costs and aren't able to charge a price that it's too good to be true. Instead, opt for someone with competitive rates to ensure you still get a good deal without compromising one the work performed.


Meet the Mechanic In-person


Once you think you've found the right mechanic, you'll want to meet the technician in-person to view their professionalism. This step will allow you to look at the quality of their facility and if they use equipment that looks like it's in good condition. Although you may not want to hassle visiting the shop before your appointment, it's important to keep in mind that you'll be leaving your car in the hands of this individual.


During the appointment, discuss the maintenance your car needs or any issues that may be present. The technician should appear genuine and friendly. Check to see if they're making eye contact or allow you to feel welcome. They should take their time answering your questions instead of making you feel rushed. It's also important to ask if they have experience working on the make and model of your vehicle to ensure they're familiar with the parts and can diagnose any issues. Finally, you may want to see if they have a comfortable waiting area where you can sit until the work is completed.


Knowing the best steps to take to find a local mechanic when it comes to caring for your car can offer peace of mind and also increase the longevity of your vehicle. The parts on your vehicle can last longer, and you'll have fewer repairs over the years by using someone professional and reputable in the industry.


Get in touch with AAA Approved, Kadotani Auto Repair in Watsonville, when you want to schedule services or if you have questions. Our team is here to help and is happy to offer our assistance.

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Last updated on: January 12, 2021  

3 Ways Preventative Maintenance Can Increase Your Vehicles Life

Preventative Car Maintenance Can Be Extremely Beneficial


mechanic performing car maintenance


Every car owner understands that their vehicle needs to undergo preventative maintenance at regular intervals throughout the life of the car. Such maintenance can keep the car operating efficiently and is important for the safety of the vehicle, the driver, and the driving public. However, people sometimes do not bring their vehicle in for preventative maintenance because they are too busy or because such measures cost money. However, there are numerous advantages to preventative maintenance, and all car owners should bring their cars in for maintenance at regular intervals.


Long-Term Costs Savings


Preventative maintenance can save a car owner a substantial amount of money in the long run. Of course, car owners need to spend a modest amount of money in order to complete an oil change, tire rotation, or other maintenance measures that may be needed for a vehicle. However, the modest amount of money spent on maintenance is nothing compared to the serious damage that a vehicle can sustain without maintenance.


For instance, if tires are not properly rotated, this could lead a tire to blow out while it is being used. This might require that the car owner pay for the cost to replace the tire and the labor needed to tow the car to a mechanic and to complete the replacement. In addition, without an oil change, a car may have issues with its engine. Engine repairs are typically far more expensive than merely having the oil changed on a vehicle. In most instances, preventative maintenance only needs to be performed a few times a year, and the modest cost and inconvenience of preventative maintenance can save a car owner substantial sums of money in the long run.




Preventative maintenance is also extremely important for promoting the safety of the driver, passengers in the affected car, and the driving public. If preventative measures are not taken, it is far more likely that a car will break down at some point or another while on the road. This means that the driver will likely need to exit a car, which may occur on a busy and unsafe road. In addition, if the car breaks down while the vehicle is in motion, it may be difficult for the driver to safely slow down to a complete stop. Moreover, some breakdowns may make it impossible to even control the car, which can imperil everyone on the road.


Moreover, breakdowns can increase the possibility of car collisions. This is because other vehicles may hit an out-of-control car. Moreover, motorists have a tendency to look at cars that have broken down, which can lead to distracted driving that can increase the likelihood of accidents. Preventative maintenance makes it far less likely that a vehicle will break down, and drivers can accordingly avoid the safety issues associated with a breakdown.


Convenience and Time-Saving


Although it may be inconvenient to take a car in for preventative maintenance, and this may cost a modest sum of money, this is far more preferable than a car breaking down. For instance, if a car breaks down in the middle of a trip, it is unlikely that the driver will be able to get to their destination on time. Moreover, the driver will need to call a tow truck to tow the car to a mechanic, which will cost time and money. In addition, if a car breaks down, the driver will be without a vehicle for however long it takes to repair the car. In order to avoid interruptions, it is important for car owners to bring their vehicles in for preventative maintenance at regular intervals.


AAA approved, Kadotani Auto Repair in Watsonville, is experienced with preventative maintenance measures for all kinds of cars. If you are looking to schedule a preventative maintenance appointment, please contact Kadotani Auto Repair today.

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Last updated on: January 12, 2021  

The Benefits of a Proper Tune-Up

What a Proper Tune Up Can Do


It is often said that to keep a car running smoothly; you need to get it tuned. However, not many car owners know what tuning a car is and what it entails. Benefitting from a successful tune-up depends on the type of car and the garage that tuned it. In today's world, cars are made to run much longer than years ago. The car's engine consists of many moving parts that work together to make a car run. With all these movements, the engine still requires maintenance.


mechanic replacing air filter during tune up


Different Services are Done When Engines are Being Tuned.


A tune-up is having a mechanic run a diagnostic test on the vehicle's performance. After which, an inspection of the engine is done to check for any malfunctioning or worn parts and change them; this includes checking the engine thoroughly, looking for leaks, and driving the car around to ensure there are no weird sounds. A technician will check to ensure that the engine vacuum is properly sealed and there are no leaks from the exhaust. Also, your technician will check the emissions from the exhaust. Checking the ignition timer ensures that there is no problem starting the vehicle.


Also, paying keen attention to the battery by checking for signs of corrosion, the technician will look for any loose contacts, and voltage testing. With many new designs coming on the market, a computer is installed and used to identify vehicle faults.


Replacing and Repairing Parts


Some services are standard when tuning vehicles, such as changing the vehicle's oils and any other fuel in the vehicle that requires changing. Doing this keeps your engine running easily and efficiently. Your technician will also check the spark plugs and change them if necessary; this ensures that electricity is being brought to the engine. If your rotors need changing, your technician will change them to avoid any stress being applied to the suspension, which will make them serve you longer.


Other small components also wear easily, such as air filters, hoses, and different types of belts. Your technician will check to ensure that if they need repairing or changing, it's done.


Ways a Tune-up Can Improve Your Vehicle.


  • Improve mileage - Tuning your vehicle can help you find small details explaining why more gas is being used than before. A prime example is the brake pedal sticking; this can cause you to lose more gas than usual. To fix this issue, the technician must replace them. In another attempt to improve your vehicle mileage, the technician will check to ensure that your vehicle is properly aligned. If not, then the technician will correct it by rotating the tires and aligning the vehicle.

  • Fixing how your vehicle drives - As your vehicle gets older, it stops running the way it uses to; you may notice it shaking or delaying when it should start-up in the mornings. The technician will do a routine checkup to look for the fault and correct it.

  • Addressing the glowing light on the dashboard - Seeing that not all drivers speak multiple languages, there is a barrier between them and the language of the producer of the car. Therefore most drivers do not understand what is happening to their vehicles when a glowing light comes up. It's for reasons such as this that a technician/mechanic comes in handy. Using a diagnostic test, they can figure out the fault and fix it.

  • Increasing the value of your car - If at any point you want to sell your car, you can do so easily and quickly, especially if you kept records such as receipts from the technician for tuning it.

  • Oil change and top up - Topping up your oils after changing them is also a necessity. The technician must check fluids such as the transmission fluids that must be flushed and top-up to increase your transmission's longevity. Refilling fuels keeps you from developing transmission issues that will develop over time.


Keeping a vehicle in tip-top shape should be on the top of every owner's list because as small as some problems may be, they can lead up to much bigger problems. A good tune-up ensures that your vehicle is running properly and it won't leave you at the side of the road.


Did you notice that your car is starting to act up, especially when you're driving faster and not performing how it used to? Or you notice that you aren't running on the same amount of fuel as before, or you see your check light comes on your dashboard, it's time for you to get it tuned.


Our customers are treated like family, so get your AAA Approved, automotive repairs done by the experienced professionals at Kadotani Auto Repair, a company with over 38 years in business found in Watsonville, California, today. You'll be really glad you did.

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Last updated on: August 17, 2020  

6 Signs Your Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced

Having good brake pads is essential for your vehicle's braking system to be able to deliver optimal performance. That’s why it's crucial to pay close attention to your brake pads' condition and promptly replace them when they are worn or damaged. 


Proper brake pads can mean the difference between your vehicle hitting an object and being able to stop quickly before touching it. Good brake pads can help to stop a collision from happening, prevent people from being injured, and save lives. Therefore it's important for you to be able to recognize the signs the pads on your brakes should be changed.


Signs The Pads On Your Brakes Need Changing


There are a number of telltale signs you should look and listen for that will let you know when the brake pads should be changed. If you notice one or more of these signs, it means you should change the worn pads on your brakes right away or your car's braking system will no longer function properly. 


Continuing to drive your car will mean that you are compromising the safety, health and lives of you, your passengers and people with whom you share the road daily. Six signs the brake pads should be changed right away are:


1. Squeaking

2. Grinding

3. Vibration When Braking

4. Taking Longer To Stop

5. Indicator Light Comes On

6. Brake Pads Appear To Be Thin


Don't ignore these signs or you can find yourself in danger of being in collisions that can cause property damage, serious injury or death.


What Each Of These Signs Means


Each of the 6 signs mentioned above are clues to the state of your brake pads. It can alert you to why you must take action right away to replace them. Here is a closer look at each sign and why immediate action is required.


1. Squeaking Brakes


Your brakes are metal discs tightly sandwiched between two brake pads. When you step on your brake pedal, the brake pads apply pressure against the metal discs. Many brake pads have steel clips that serve as wear indicators. 


When your brakes begin to make squealing or squeaking noises it usually indicates that the brake pads have worn down below their safe limits and must be changed at the first opportunity or your vehicle will not stop in a timely manner when you step on the brake pedal. Ignore the squealing sound and you risk doing serious damage to your rotors that's very expensive to repair.


2. Grinding Brakes


If every time you step on your brake pedal you hear a loud grinding sound, it often means the brake pads are so badly worn that the rotor disc is making contact with the caliper. Extremely worn brake pads can grind down and cut into your rotors. This can create a major brake system problem if it isn't addressed right away. 


When your brake pads start grinding against your rotors, it can result in damage to the rotors and the calipers and can cause your brakes to fail and be unable to stop your vehicle. If you hear a grinding sound when you mash your brakes, change your brake pads immediately.


3. Vibration When Braking


When the brake pads are overly worn, they can begin scraping metal off of the rotors in different spots. When the rotor is thinner in some spots than others, it can cause the brakes to shake or pulse when you step on the brake pedal. 


When you notice this happening, it means you have to change the brake pads and have your rotors machined to make them a uniform thickness throughout. If you don't do this quickly, your braking system will begin to have major problems and could eventually fail altogether. This vibration is a signal that the brake pads should be changed and your rotor repaired.


Important to note: At Kadotani Auto Repair, we typically will replace rotors rather than resurface them. Thin rotors tend to warp quickly after repair due to their inability to properly dissipate heat. 


4. Taking Longer To Stop


Worn brake pads is a common reason a vehicle would take much longer than it normally does to come to a complete stop when you step on the brake pedal. When a vehicle's brake pads are spent and should be changed, they are unable to put enough pressure on the rotors to quickly stop the wheels from turning. 


This can be very dangerous because in situations where you need your vehicle to stop right away to prevent an accident or stop it from hitting a person or pet, your braking system won't engage quickly enough. That's why changing the brake pads in a timely manner is so important.


5. The Brake Indicator Light Comes On


Usually when the brake indicator light comes on it means the brake pads are spent or the brake fluid level is too low. Some newer vehicles have sensors that trigger the brake indicator light when the brake pads wear thin. Plus, spent brake pads can result in low brake fluid levels. 


When brake pads are threadbare, they cause the brake caliper piston to extend further to force the brake pad to press up against the rotor. When the piston advances further, the space created inside the brake caliper fills with brake fluid. When the master cylinder's brake fluid level drops dangerously low the light comes on.


6. Brake Pads Appear To Be Thin


For the braking system on your automobile to function properly, the brake pads should not be allowed to get thinner than ¼ inch. Brake pad thickness plays an essential role in road safety. Brake pads that measure 1⁄8 inch in thickness have reached the end of their recommended wear limit. 


Driving with brake pads that thin is not safe. When a car's brake pads start to appear to be very thin, then immediately change them. The brake pads on any car should be no thinner than 1⁄3 of an inch in order for them to be able to stop the vehicle quickly and safely. Change all very thin brake pads right away to protect yourself and others and prevent dangerous braking problems.


At Kadotani Auto Repair, you can always rely on us for honest and fair quotes, superb pricing, and skilled automotive labor that won't break up your piggy bank. If you have brake, maintenance or repair issues with your automobile, please call us today to schedule a highly skilled inspection and maintenance or repair.

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