Author Archive

Is it time to replace my vehicle?

This is a question we get asked a lot. In response, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Does my current vehicle suit my needs and fit my lifestyle?
    If not, then the answer is yes. If it does, it may make sense to invest some money in it to keep it on the road longer.
  2. Are you going to buy a new or pre-owned vehicle?
    Often the sales tax alone will exceed the price of the repairs needed on your current vehicle. Then, compound the cost of registration, down payment, insurance and depreciation and we get further into trouble. Pre-owned vehicles usually only give you a two-year reprieve from repairs at best.
  3. What is my current vehicle actually worth? What is it worth to me?
    Another way of looking at the situation is the idea of buying miles. Breaking down the cost of repairs by the number of miles we can get out of the vehicle can often justify the costs. This is especially helpful when your car has little market value, meaning, the amount of money you can net from a private party sale or trade-in at the dealership relative to the cost of repairs needed. I also like to take a look at the total dollar amount of the repairs and ask myself if I could buy a better car for that amount of money?
  4. Am I making an informed decision? Or am I buying someone else’s headache?
    We’re familiar with our vehicles even if there is a list of repairs that need attention. That’s worth something. The worst part about buying a used vehicle is that you’re taking a gamble on whether or not you have to start repairing it.
  5. Am I throwing $50,000 at a $5000 problem?
    That’s a good question. Buying a new vehicle rarely makes good financial sense. Vehicles are a bad investment, but necessary to have. Let us help you decide which options are best for you and your family.

If you have more questions than answers, please call to schedule a consultation with us. We can perform our comprehensive 59-point safety and maintenance inspection, then sit down and have an objective conversation about whether you should keep your car or replace it.

If it is indeed time to replace your vehicle you can buy with confidence once we’ve performed a pre-purchase inspection on your next vehicle.

Here are some of the benefits of performing a pre-purchase inspection:

  1. Negotiating power. If the prospective vehicle needs service and or repairs, it’s a great way to negotiate the price or the repairs before you make the purchase. We tend to see customers buying the car first and then finding out it needs extensive work.
  2. A lot of times used vehicles look better on the outside than they do on the inside. There are many vehicle components that wear gradually and can go undetected on a test drive.
  3. Accidents and structural damage don’t always show up on a Carfax report. Repairs can be made at shops that don’t report to Carfax. Be an informed buyer by insisting on a pre-purchase inspection before you complete the transaction.

Our pre-purchase inspection is regularly priced at $189. Through September and October we’re offering this service for $139. You save $50!

Air quality: Your health and your filters

Over the past few weeks, we have been seeing a lot of very dirty engine air filters and cabin air filters due to the poor air quality from the devastating wildfires burning here in California and the west coast.

Typically, in normal conditions, engine air filters can be in service for 30,000 to 40,000 miles in our particular climate. In severe conditions like we’ve been experiencing lately, they will need to be serviced much sooner than that.

In some cases, engine air filters can even cause poor engine performance due to the fine particles in smoke that can get past the air filter element and affect the sensitive electronics that meter the air coming into the engine. Some of the symptoms you may notice are lack of power, hesitation or misfiring, or your Check Engine light may come on. Please give us a call right away if you experience any of these problems with your vehicle. It could be an easy fix!

The main function of the cabin filter is to clean the air entering your vehicle while your heater and air conditioning is in operation or the fresh air vents are open. The fine particles that get through the cabin filter are also known to cause health problems, especially in people with allergies or asthma. We can replace your cabin air filter and sanitize the ductwork in your vehicle’s HVAC system all within a couple of hours.

It only takes a few minutes to inspect these filters and we are more than happy to offer a complimentary inspection while you wait. Please just give us a call to let us know you’re on your way.


Please know that we are still being very diligent in our efforts to keep you and our staff safe from COVID-19. We regularly disinfect our facility, your keys and high-touch areas in your vehicles before, during and after service. Our lobby is still closed to clients, but we do have a table at the front door where you can drop off your keys and talk to us from a safe distance. We’re looking forward to the day when we can shake hands and do business face-to-face again.

Rodent Damage Can Mean Big Problems for Your Car

While sitting idle, a client’s car suffered some severe rodent damage. He immediately called us and brought the car into our shop.

Upon our initial inspection, we found multiple warning lights on the dash. As we investigated a little further, we found extensive damage to the vehicle’s electrical system and two seat belts that needed to be replaced. One shoulder belt was chewed all the way through, and a seatbelt buckle was chewed halfway through on the opposite side of the vehicle. The scary part was that the buckle was damaged between the seats and wasn’t visible at first glance, which is particularly dangerous.

Along with the seat belt replacement and wiring harness repairs, we performed our FREE 59-point inspection just to be sure all the other major components were in working order.

We were able to replace the seat belts and repair the wiring within two days to get his car back on the road in the condition it’s meant to be driven safely.

Don’t let rodents or other pests take control of your car. All you have to do is schedule an appointment and we’ll take care of the rest!

Our Commitment to you:

  • We will inspect your vehicle and create a “Health Plan” for the foreseeable future.
  • We will prioritize our discoveries into three categories:
    • Safety and reliability
    • Preventative maintenance.
    • Aesthetics, future repairs and maintenance
  • We will review this plan with you and offer strategies to get the most important things done now, and then schedule the remaining services for a future date.
  • We want to take a step-by-step approach to maximizing your vehicle’s performance, reliability and value.
  • We can work with ANY budget.
  • We can negotiate with vendors on pricing and offer multiple options on parts (good, better, best quality).
  • We can offer more or less warranty to help control price and help you achieve your goals.
  • We can offer recycled parts when practical to help save money.

Call today to schedule your appointment today at 949-979-5255!


In between services? Not driving as much? Mostly we hear about how we need to keep our vehicles maintained every 5,000 miles and how to keep up with our scheduled maintenance. What we don’t hear about is what to do when we’re not driving our cars.

Believe it or not, it’s actually worse for your vehicle to be left idle and unattended than it is to drive it every day. Over time, fluids break down causing excessive internal wear, tires can get flat spots, seals and gaskets can become dry and brittle and start to leak. It’s also very common in Orange County for rodents to build nests and chew on the wires and hoses of your vehicle while it’s being stored.

New cars sales are down as much as 35% nationwide through the second quarter of 2020 indicating that consumers are holding onto their cars instead of buying new ones. Here’s how we can help you get the most value out of your current vehicle.

We are continuing to offer our 59-point inspection for FREE. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, no strings attached.

  • We will inspect your vehicle and create a “Health Plan” for the foreseeable future.
  • We will prioritize our discoveries into three categories:
    • Safety and reliability.
    • Preventative maintenance.
    • Aesthetics, future repairs, and maintenance.
  • We will review this plan with you and offer strategies to get the most important things done now, and then schedule the remaining services for a future date.
  • We want to take a step-by-step approach to maximizing your vehicle’s performance, reliability, and value.
  • We can work with ANY budget.
    • We can negotiate with vendors on pricing, offer multiple options on parts (good, better, best) quality.
    • Offer more or less warranty to help control price and help you achieve your goals.
    • Offer recycled parts when practical to help save money.

Call today to schedule your appointment since we can only accommodate two FREE Inspections per day.

Reasons for Air Compressor Issues in Porsches

When looking to buy a luxury car, Porsche is one of the first luxury names that comes to mind. With their sporty looks and high price tag, these beautiful cars are a go-to for collectors, investors, business owners and even families. With many different types of styles, these classy cars are appealing to everyone.

If purchasing a luxury car like a Porsche, you want to make sure that it’s always in the best possible condition. Of course, the easiest way to do that is to follow the scheduled maintenance required for your car, and seek a skilled mechanic or auto shop whenever you have concerns.

How Does it Work?

The air compressor is a crucial part of your comfort. Once created, they became a common feature in the regular automobile. They provide the critical backbone of your air conditioning system, and let the car interior cool to an entire twenty degrees or so from the outdoor temperature. This gives the driver greater flexibility and comfort when driving in hot temperatures.

While the air conditioning system feels like a blast of cold, fresh air—like opening a freezer door—the cooling effect is actually created by removing heat from the outside warm air. Essentially, the compressor begins to activate the refrigerant in the system. It travels through the condenser, where the heat is pulled out. After, it contaminants are removed in the dryer, and then the pressure is lessened after passing through the expansion valve. Finally, it progresses through the evaporator and is pushed into your car as cold, fresh-feeling air.

Because you only use the air conditioning system during the hot months, it’s more likely to last longer than other key components of your car, since it’s not facing the same wear and tear. Similarly, drivers may not notice a malfunctioning system for a while, due to lack of consistent use.

Warning Signs

The warning signs of a potentially defunct or problematic air compressor are fairly obvious. If the vents are blowing out warm air, even after driving it and keeping the car on for a little while, then the system is down. Oftentimes, this simply means getting the refrigerant recharged. This generally happens every few years or so. If it’s a more severe problem, it may result in the entire compressor needing to be replaced. A leak in any of the air conditioning system locations can also result in a failing air conditioning system.

The compressor is an absolutely essential part of the system. In its absence, the car is left only with fans blowing outside air into the vehicle, with no cooling capacity. Like other parts of the engine, the compressor is powered by the serpentine belt. If it snaps, the compressor will fail to work. At the same time, the car itself will stop working, which would obviously indicate that something is wrong with the car. Other potential warning signs include: weird rattling, or unexpected noises, lack of efficiency, or strange fluid leaks.

How to Avoid Problems with Your Air Compressor

One of the best ways to avoid a more costly repair—like getting the full compressor replaced—is to use the air conditioning regularly and check for problems. It’s recommended that even during the months of November to February, you should turn the air on for at least ten minutes every thirty days. This prevents the system from “resting” too long which can be detrimental in the long-term.

Thankfully, if regular care is taken with the compressor, it should last the average lifespan of your car, and prevent a costly removal and replacement cost. Recharging is expected every few years for the health of the car.

Turning On Porsche AC

How We Can Help:

No matter the problem, our skilled technicians here at Star Motors are ready to help. Serving San Juan Capistrano, CA as well as other Southern Orange County areas, we are prepared to fix any of your problems. Specializing in European vehicles, we can gladly work with you on any potential issues. We’ve served our customers for over 30 years, and have factory-trained and ASE Master Certified Technicians are always available to service your car. We understand that your car is special to you, and we treat it like it’s our own. Call or stop by today to get your AC cooling again!

Signs of a Bad Coolant Pipe in Your Porsche

Coolant leaks are a common occurrence with any vehicle. There are many places where coolant could leak from, some of great concern than others. Though it is common, leaking coolant is something that should be addressed early to avoid larger problems down the road. After all, keeping your car engine from overheating is imperative to preventing major engine damage as well as just allowing your car to start in the morning before work. If you’re a Porsche owner, you may want to take additional preventive measures by replacing or upgrading your coolant pipes.

Known Issues

In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Porsche for knowingly using plastic coolant pipes in their Cayennes. These plastic pipes failed to stand up to the heat of the coolant flowing through them and failed, requiring Porsche owners to upgrade to aluminum coolant pipes. While this has since been addressed, even the best hoses will wear out over time due to harsh working environment. So it’s not a bad idea to be aware of any potential problem with the coolant pipes in your vehicle as they can lead to costly repairs down the road if not addressed in a timely manner.

Coolant hoses come in a variety of materials and sizes. Their purpose is to carry hot coolant from your engine to your radiator to be cooled and returned back to your engine to keep your vehicle from overheating. There is an upper and lower hose, the upper connecting from the top of the radiator to the top of the engine, the lower attaching from the bottom of the radiator to the water pump. The following signs would indicate that one or both of the pipes are failing and need attention:

Leaking coolant

A puddle of sweet-smelling green fluid under your vehicle is a sure sign that you’re leaking coolant. Coolant can leak from a number of places including the radiator hose, the radiator drain cock, or the radiator itself in addition to the coolant pipes. With so many potential places for a leak to occur, if you do notice coolant dripping or pooling under your car, a Porsche specialist should take a look for you.

Engine overheating

If coolant is leaking from your engine, the engine will overheat since the coolant is no longer there to do its job. Anytime you notice your engine overheating, your car should be evaluated as this can lead to complete engine failure.

Low coolant

If you are constantly having to replenish coolant, then it is most likely due to a leak somewhere in your car’s cooling system.

Collapsed Pipe

If you notice any kinking or holes when you do a quick visual inspection under the hood, it could indicate that its time to replace the coolant pipes.

Repairing a Bad Coolant Pipe

While you could diagnose and repair a bad coolant pipe yourself, the risk of failure in your cooling system could be catastrophic. There are so many interconnected parts to your car’s cooling system that a full diagnosis of the entire system is usually recommended as a vehicle ages. A bad coolant pipe could lead to a damaged radiator, damaged cooling fans, overheating of the thermostat, and damage to the water pump impellers. An experience technician would be aware of the domino effect that can be caused by one item failing. They could also tell you if your Porsche requires an upgrade from the plastic coolant pipes put in by the manufacturer and help you avoid an emergency situation down the road. By performing a thorough check of entire cooling system, a Porsche specialist can reduce costs for you the owner.

Porsche Cayman

Cooling System Maintenance

As with anything, maintaining your car’s engine is safer, more economical and results in a more enjoyable driving experience in your Porsche. Maintaining and repairing small issues with your cooling system at the recommended interval will help you avoid the headaches mentioned above and keep repair costs to a minimum. Rely on the European car experts at Star Motors of Orange County to help you create a maintenance schedule tailored to your vehicle. Call Star Motors in San Capistrano, CA to schedule a cooling system service check today, so you can be sure your Porsche stays cool!

* Porsche Cayman image credit goes to: SusanaValera.

What Problems Do Faulty Spark Plugs Cause?

Most of us know that the spark plug is necessary for the important act of starting your engine. This tiny component of your engine sends a small electric arc across a gap that lights the first in a series of small explosions in your car that use the fuel you pump into it to run your engine. Though it is one of the smallest parts of your engine, who could argue that it is one of the most important?

What Does a Spark Plug Do?

In addition to starting your engine for you day after day, the mighty spark plug is responsible for a handful of other tasks that greatly improve your driving experience:

Burns off deposits from fuel additives

Over time, deposits in your car engine can lead to a jolt when you start your car or a jerky ride as you drive. The heat generated from good spark plugs keep these deposits from building up in your engine.

Helps your car run efficiently

According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence misfiring spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency by 30%.

Improves performance

A smooth combustion system triggered by healthy spark plugs means a smoother ride.

Reduces harmful emissions

With many states now requiring emissions testing of motor vehicles in order to renew registration, this is an important consideration. Many times, when a car fails an emissions test it is due to the amount of raw gas being released from the tailpipe. If you find yourself in this situation, replacing spark plugs could be the first step you take in correcting and retesting your car’s output.

Problems Caused By Faulty Spark Plugs

Needless to say your spark plug does a lot for your vehicle. Yet not many of us give much thought to the maintenance required to keep them working as intended. Automotive manufacturers recommend replacing your spark plugs anywhere from every 30,000 to every 80,000 miles. Failing to do so can lead to problems, the most troubling of these being the inability to start your car in the morning. Over time, poor fuel quality can leave deposits on your spark plugs, or an ashy coating on the electrodes which lead to misfiring. If not addressed, the build up can actually close the gap between the electrodes which would leave you unable to start your engine.

In addition, the following list of symptoms are good indicators of failing spark plugs:

Jerky engine start

After some time, the gap between electrodes between which the electrical signal is sent, can begin to widen making it harder for that spark to get across. If your car is having a hard time starting and requires a few tries in the morning, this may be the culprit.

Engine idles roughly

If the RPMs are shooting up and down causing your car to rumble as you idle, there could be a problem with a set of your spark plugs. Check the color, wetness and physical appearance of your spark plugs as an indicator of where the faulty ones may be.

Engine surges

Engine surging is a warning sign that your car has combustion problems. Spark plugs are key in the combustion process and could very likely be the cause for the surge. Each cylinder in your engine has a spark plug. If one of those are misfiring it could lead to engine surging.

Failure to accelerate

For the same reason mentioned above a failing spark plug can make your car’s acceleration feel laborious.

Filling up your gas tank more frequently

Faulty spark plugs could lead to increased fuel consumption and higher emissions as mentioned earlier. If your spark plugs haven’t been checked in a while, this might be the time.

Spark Plug Repair

Spark Plug Maintenance

As with anything, maintaining your car’s engine is safer, more economical and results in a more enjoyable driving experience. Replacing your spark plugs at the recommended interval will help you avoid the headaches listed above and keep repair costs to a minimum. Rely on the European car experts at Star Motors or Orange County to help you create a maintenance schedule tailored to your vehicle. Contact Star Motors in San Capistrano, CA to check your spark plugs and get you set up on the best maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

Important Volvo Maintenance Tips

As a Volvo owner, regular maintenance is vitally important to the performance and safety of your vehicle. Without proper care, your vehicle will be more likely to have serious problems in the future that could lead to you spending large amounts of money on emergency fixes. Poor maintenance also compromises the security and stability that has become synonymous with Volvo’s brand.

Car maintenance shouldn’t be considered a difficult task. Even drivers with limited mechanical knowledge can perform routine maintenance tasks which can prolong the life of your Volvo as well as save you hundreds of dollars in emergency fixes. Maintaining your vehicle shouldn’t be considered an inconvenience or a challenge. Instead, you should see this as ensuring your safety and security and getting the most out of your investment.

Keep it Clean

A simple maintenance task that often goes overlooked is maintaining a routine car washing schedule. The best way to keep your Volvo’s exterior looking well is to clean off any mud and scum that may harm the car’s finish. This also gives you a closer look at any scratches, dents, chips, and dings that you would not usually notice. Below are some tips on washing your Volvo.

  • Wash your car with a gentle cleaning solution that is safe for automotive finishes. Start at the top and work down from there. Use a washing mitt or cloth made of microfiber. After washing the finish, wash your tires with a separate bucket filled with soapy water, so you do not get grease or dirt on any other parts of your car.
  • Look over the paint for messy spots from bird droppings, pollen, or tree sap. These contaminants are often stuck to the paint’s surface so a special clay bar made for car exterior care may help you clear them away.
  • Dry your car thoroughly with fresh, clean towels. Soft, waffle-weave, absorbent microfiber drying towels are preferable for this task. Then put on car wax. You have several varieties from which to choose, but usually a liquid or paste-style wax works well when applied every 3 months. This will help protect and maintain the exterior of your car.

Checking Tire Pressure

Another maintenance tip that often gets disregarded is the importance of checking your tire pressure. Low tire pressure can result in dangerous driving conditions. Low tire pressure will also result in you visiting your local gas station more frequently, as it will lower your car’s gas mileage. Checking your tire pressure can be done anytime you visit your local gas station and should take you less than 5 mins. The only tool you’ll need is a tire gauge which should cost anywhere from $5 to $10 from your local auto store.

  • Take off the cap from the air valve, then firmly press the tire gauge squarely onto the air valve. Be sure to only remove the valve cap from one tire at a time.
  • Increase air in the tire until it reaches the recommended air pressure.
  • Screw the valve cap back onto the air valve.
  • Look over your tires to be sure that they do not have any nails, screws, or any other objects stuck in the rubber that could puncture the tire and cause an air leak.
  • Check the sides of the tires to be sure you do not see any cuts, bulges, gouges, or any other irregularities.
  • Repeat this procedure for each tire. Don’t forget the spare!

Further Maintenance

For the more ambitious Volvo owner, there are additional maintenance steps you can perform, such as changing your battery every 4 to 5 years, regular oil changes, replacing the brake pads as needed, and rotating your tires annually. However, these are more intensive tasks, and these can all be addressed at an annual checkup with your local Volvo specialist.

Red Volvo Car

How Star Motors Service Can Help

The Volvo automotive specialists here at Star Motors focus their expertise on European automobiles and their safety and performance. We serve clients from all over the areas of San Juan Capistrano, CA and Southern Orange County. We perform thorough ongoing inspections as part of our routine maintenance plan for our clients. If you’d like us to perform a routine maintenance check on your Volvo, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our Volvo experts or drop by to speak with one of our skilled service technicians.

* Red Volvo Car image credit goes to: ESezer.

How to Fix 13-Pin Connector Issues in a Mercedes

Understanding common problems in your Mercedes may help you save money and know what preventative measures you should take in order to ensure a long-lasting vehicle. The Mercedes is an excellent car, but it can still be susceptible to issues that could be costly. The better you know your car, the more confident you will be when a problem arises.

It is important to stay up to date on maintenance and keep detailed records of the work performed on your car. Make sure to read through your manual for recommended maintenance procedures. You can also consult your mechanic to see if you should be aware of any other work needed. Regular maintenance, not only helps keep the car’s performance consistent, but it can also help prevent many issues that may be associated with your vehicle.

What are common issues in Mercedes?

Like most cars, the Mercedes can experience some transmission issues from time to time. It is most commonly known for having issues with a faulty 13-pin connector. This issue is most commonly seen on Mercedes models produced from the year 1998 to 2008. It will present itself as an oil leak in the connector, which can be internal or external where the rubber O-rings are located. The 13-pin connector can cause a transmission slip, which causes transmission fluid to leak and can create problems with the valve body.

When the connector leaks, it is possible that this simple issue could cause potential worse issues for your car. The sooner the connector is replaced the better. The leak could damage the control module or the harness. If damaged, these also would need to be replaced. When dealing with a transmission issue, it is better to deal with the problem quickly in order to avoid one small issue snowballing into more costly problems. In addition to this problem leading to more serious issues with your car, it should be addressed quickly to ensure you have no issues when driving to help ensure both your safety and the safety of those around you.

Transmission Misdiagnosis

While a faulty connector pin is a common problem in the Mercedes, under-trained mechanics regularly misdiagnose it as a transmission issue. Usually the assumption is that the owner will need to replace their entire transmission, or they will need to replace the valve body. These replacements are both costly and labor intensive.

In order to prevent a serious and expensive misdiagnosis, it is wise to research your vehicle and to communicate with your reliable mechanic about this common problem. Having a basic understanding of your car and how it functions can be the difference between a simple, cheap fix and a fix that may cost you thousands.

What is the solution to a 13-pin connector leak?

The simple fix to a connector problem is to purchase a replacement part and replace the connector pin. Mercedes has designed an updated connector pin for this common problem, which is available for purchase. This can be a finicky repair, so it is recommended to see a qualified service technician.

When replacing the part it is important to replace the transmission oil and to have a dipstick to check the oil level. The transmission in the Mercedes is sealed without easy access because it is electrically controlled. When changing the transmission fluid it is recommended to use transmission fluid produced by Mercedes, but you can ask your local mechanic or auto store what they recommend.

Mercedes Logo

Experts You Can Trust

At Star Motors, we can help you identify if you are dealing with a connector pin issue in your Mercedes. Located in San Juan Capistrano, CA and easily accessible from other Southern Orange County areas, we have expertly trained mechanics to help service your vehicle. Trained in various European auto repair services, we will quickly be able to determine if you are dealing with a faulty pin connector. We specialize in luxury vehicles and are knowledgeable in new technologies that help us diagnosis and repair your car.

With decades of experience, Star Motors is dedicated to quality customer care and service. It is important to be able to have mechanics you can trust to maintain your vehicle and to fix problems with your car. Call today to schedule an appointment to get your vehicle inspected.

* Red Mercedes-Benz C63 image credit goes to: kurmyshov.

* Mercedes Logo image credit goes to: vesilvio.