If Only…

Car Knowledge

I hear customers’ day in and day out that express a wish that they knew more about cars so they would know exactly what to do if this or that occurred.  They sigh and say, “If only I had just some knowledge….”  I tell them they actually know a lot more than they give themselves credit for!  It is true!  You are more aware of your car’s little quirks.  You know when something isn’t quite right more so than anyone else.

I get calls all the time saying that their car is making a ka-thump noise or a pinging noise or it is knocking or sputtering, whining or screeching.  And you thought you didn’t have knowledge?  Of course you do. You just need to know what these noises mean…so even though I’ve said it before…here is a refresher course!

Screeching usually signifies a brake problem.  The screech is actually the sound of metal scraping.

Thudding or a low metallic thumping noise can be a loose pulley or exhaust pipe or even a worn crank shaft bearing.

A knocking noise signifies loose bolts in the torque converter or a bad connecting rod or even a worn crankshaft main bearing.

Pinging noises seem to very common and your car either needs a tune-up or the fuel octane may be too low for your car’s engine.

Tapping or clicking can be many things such as a bent or loose fan blade, loose hubcap, bad wheel bearing or low level of engine oil.

Clunking can be mean your transmission fluid is low or your car has a bad universal joint or rear differential.

Squealing is usually the result of under-inflated tires, poor wheel alignment, a loose power steering fan or air conditioner compressor belt.

Squeaking noises can be caused by worn suspension bushings, bad drum-brake linings, or a chassis in need of lubrication.

I hope you find this translation helpful.  Regular vehicle checkups prevent these noises from happening and keep your vehicle healthy.  Now, if your vehicle is doing any of these things listed above, call us today!  We will make it all better in no time!

Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.

Hometown Service You Can Count On!


Don’t Believe Everything You Read Online!

“They can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true!”  It is sad how many gullible people believe that! Many consumers don’t want to work on their car themselves but they want to buy the parts themselves and have us install them because they found them online somewhere a little cheaper. I want what is best for my customers and I don’t want to embarrass them but I won’t be putting on cheap parts they find on the Internet either.  I have a reputation to uphold and I warranty my work. I’ve been ordering parts for years and have trusted parts suppliers.  I don’t go get them out of the junk yard or buy a part that will last only three months.  I buy parts that will withstand the rigors of driving and weather, that are reliable, and the pricing is competitive.  I put my customers’ safety first.


I appreciate the Internet as much as anyone, but it doesn’t have the expertise that we have when it comes to ordering the right parts and repairing cars.  It doesn’t care about keeping consumers safe. I know the automotive repair profession isn’t alone when it comes to this frustration.  Everyone suddenly thinks they are the expert even though they didn’t go to school for years to be the best at this job nor do they have to have constant education to keep current.


I know I’m in good company, though, as doctors complain about the same issue.  It seems consumers also trust their health to the self-diagnosis they do with the help of the Internet.  Well…just like the doctor isn’t going to write a person a prescription based on a diagnosis a patient found on the Internet, I’m not going to order a part or put on a part a customer found themselves.  I’m a trained professional in my field with certification to prove it.  Doctors are the professionals in their field and they too have the credentials to prove it.


Some consumers have taken it a step further.  They believe so much in what they read on the Internet they not only purchase the parts themselves, they try to fix it themselves.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to “undo” the damage of do-it-yourself repair.  Of course the Internet provided step-by-step instructions but somehow it wasn’t as easy as it looked.  The really sad thing about this scenario is the consumer was trying to save a few dollars and they ended up paying so much more as it is often more expensive to undo the damage the cheap fix cost.


Thankfully, the majority of my customers trust us to do the job right at a very competitive price.  I promise if you tried to do-it-yourself and failed, we will never reprimand or cause you to feel uncomfortable.  We will undo the fix and not say a word. I do worry, however, about what will happen when consumers start doing surgery on themselves or loved ones because the Internet provided easy, step-by-step instructions! Scary!


Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!


Using the Right Motor Oil Is Imperative


Those of us in the automotive service and repair business understand why having oil in a vehicle’s engine is important, but few drivers actually understand the labeling and codes that are found on motor oil packaging. At Certified Auto Specialists we are very conscientious about using the correct oil for each vehicle and there are many different types out there.  Sometimes consumers wonder why the pricing is different on their oil change from car to car…this is the reason why.  Different makes and models require different oils.

The Bare Bones of Oil
Most everyone understands that engine oil keeps the engine parts lubricated in both low and high temperatures and it helps protect the emission system and provides enhanced fuel economy. They have heard for years that engine oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. Many find out the importance of oil at an early age because they mow lawns.  Additives are added to the oil to make sure seals stay conditioned in older car’s engines or to help aid in better fuel economy. Manufacturers of the most popular makes and models basically deal with three types of motor oil.

Conventional oil, or refined crude oil makes up 75 percent to 80 percent of the mix, and then additives are put into the mix to distinguish one type of conventional motor oil from another. Full synthetic oil is a popular alternative to conventional oil and its purpose is to provide enhanced engine protection. It enables a car’s engine to maintain good viscosity at all temperatures, although it also has characteristics that prevent solidification at lower temperatures. The third type is a blend of synthetic with conventional.

The various additives are necessary to engine performance. These additives include such ingredients as detergents, antioxidants, viscosity index improvers and many more. Their functions do everything from stopping oil oxidation, keeping the oil at the right thickness, to keeping high-temperature surfaces clean. They also collect dirt and contaminants to prevent buildups on engine parts. Additives for older cars are also available and they have special seal conditioning ingredients that rejuvenate internal seals in order to stop internal oil leaks and also help to keep the seals soft enough to be pliable.

The American Petroleum Institute (API)
To avoid confusion about motor the various motor oils, the API has developed a “donut” label that helps certified technicians and shop managers make educated decisions. For example, “API Service GF4” means that the motor oil is approved for use in most gasoline engines by API. The middle of the donut should say “SAE,” and is followed by a code such as 5W-30. SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers, and the number code refers to the motor oil’s viscosity.

Viscosity simply refers to the oil’s flow capability at various temperatures. It also refers to as the motor oil’s weight, or the “W” in the code. The first number shows how well an engine will start in cold weather. The lower the number tells us that this oil will start up in winter weather, and shows us how well engine parts will be lubricated in colder temperatures. The second number indicates the high-temperature viscosity or how much thickness the oil has at high temperatures. The bottom half of the donut indicates that the oil has met or exceeded energy conserving requirements.

Make Sure Your Shop is Certified
How can you know that the motor oil you’re getting from your provider is really intended for use in all vehicles? An ASE Certified Shop knows what oil to use in each vehicle it services. That is why we go to continuing education classes…so we are up to the minute to provide our customers with the right products for their cars, SUV’s and light trucks.  Improvements are being made all the time and we have to stay current in this constantly changing industry we specialize in.

Using the Wrong Oil
If a shop or quick lube uses the wrong oil in your vehicle you probably won’t notice an immediate problem but it will develop if it is repeated time and time again. Metal on metal contact or heat damage is serious and can cause major damage.  It also lowers fuel economy. Our goal is to keep our customers’ cars healthy and running for many miles to come!

Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!

The Ever Changing Car – What You Need To Know


AAA Findings – The technology of our cars is constantly changing supposedly for the better…yet AAA recorded a record number of breakdowns in 2015 (32 million) despite all the advances. This isn’t just with older vehicles but vehicles that are under five years of age.  Why is this happening?  According to AAA, they are seeing a lot of battery, tire issues and key problems.  The electronic key and ignition systems drain the battery.  The elimination of a spare tire to get better fuel economy is also being felt.  The inflator kit can’t fix everything.  What is another surprising problem?  Over half a million drivers ran out of gas last year!


GDI Engines – Gasoline direct injection engines or GDI increases our vehicle’s fuel economy and controls emission levels…however…it also causes carbon build up on the intake valves which hurts our fuel economy and causes our ride to be sluggish.  Currently, all gasoline will leave a deposit.  The engine is located in the combustion chamber where the temperature is over 500 degrees, and under a great deal of pressure, resulting in carbon buildup.  If your vehicle has a GDI engine, it is important that it have a complete fuel system cleaning to remove these deposits.


Refrigerant – In order to help reduce global warming from air conditioning refrigerant, the USA is starting to phase out R-134a refrigerant by 2021 in new cars.  Some manufacturers are already phasing in the replacement, R-1234yf.  It comes with some challenges, however.  Apparently, R-1234yf can be a fire hazard.  Daimler says it will add an under hood fire extinguisher that will spray the lines to keep leaking refrigerant from igniting.


Coolant – Using the correct coolant is vitally important to your car’s health.  Use the wrong type for your car and it can cause serious damage over time.  Low coolant levels can also cause a lot of distress for your car.  Did you know that 95% of water pump failure is due to never flushing/exchanging the coolant in your car?  Even clean looking coolant can collect abrasive particles that cause damage.  It starts by eroding the water pump seal…then the impeller.  Then it starts on the radiator/heater core.  Next up is the head gasket.  Even with all the additives to give coolant long life…over time the additives will fail.


Vehicle Inspections – Why do we like to inspect your vehicle when you visit…even if you are there for “just an oil change?”  We want to keep your car going for miles to come. The technicians at Certified Auto Specialists are experts in keeping your car healthy and they know what to look for.


Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!


Always Moving Forward

When you own, manage and work in the auto repair business one thing you learn, and you learn quickly, is that you always have to keep moving forward. Sometimes people refer to us as “car doctors” and that is true…but I will say that although “people doctors” certainly have to keep moving forward with ever- changing advances in medications and disease control, “car doctors” have to keep moving forward to keep pace with the ever-changing vehicle! The human body comes in two makes and they don’t change…cars come in several makes and models and they change all the time.

Myself and my employees never stop training. If we stopped, we would soon be out of business because today’s vehicles are getting more and more sophisticated and computer/software run. It takes a whole lot more talent than being good with a wrench…we have to be computer experts to keep pace.

Being the owner of an auto repair business means much more than hanging out a sign. Owners have to hire the right talent to begin with…then we have to make sure that talent is willing to keep training. That is one of the hardest things we owners have to contend with…keeping our workforce inspired to learn more. Motivation is the full-time job of ownership.

Thankfully, there are ways for me to keep training so I can manage my business to help motivate me and my staff. I recently completed training (for now) and graduated. Yes…I still have to go to school and graduate. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) held its Automotive Management Institute (AMI) graduation and award ceremony Saturday August 12th in Anaheim, CA. It was an awesome event.

I was honored to be included in the 1st graduating class, earning the new A.M.A.M. degree (Accredited Master Automotive Manager). 49 people graduated by accumulating 180 credits through many accredited management classes. Others in attendance earned the Accredited Automotive Manager (A.A.M.) degree with 120 credits as well.

I work hard to be the best I can be and support our industry. I just wanted my readers to know that we do this to better ourselves, motivate our staff and be the very best we can be for our customers. When a shop keeps striving to be the best, you will see many degrees and certifications hanging on the walls. Most of this training takes place after hours but it is so necessary. We can never rest on our laurels…we take a deep breath and then sign up for the next training event that comes along. Here’s to always moving forward!

Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Don’t be Afraid



The thought of automotive repair seems to strike fear in the hearts of even the bravest of consumers.  Why is that?

  • When consumers go to the doctor or dentist and get bad news they fear bodily pain; when they get bad news about their vehicle they fear the pain they might feel in their wallet because repair invoices are higher than preventive maintenance invoices.
  • Auto repair shops are still tops in the rating charts of businesses consumers don’t trust.
  • They also top the charts in complaints to the Consumer Protection Division.
  • The media took hidden cameras to several untrustworthy auto repair businesses to reinforce in the consumers’ minds that some shops are a bunch of rip-off artists.
  • The general public is not very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of automotive repair because the places they do business with don’t bother to educate their customers.


Fear Eliminator: The Warranty

A reputable shop will warranty their parts and their labor.  For this reason, most shops prefer not to use parts supplied by the consumer.  If they do accept these types of parts generally and understandably they will not warrantee the job.


If a consumer simply can’t afford the cost of the estimated repair, shops sometimes will look for salvaged parts because they are less expensive but again, they most likely will not warrantee the job.  The good news is that most independent shops will use aftermarket parts which are high in quality but are not as expensive as original manufactured parts.  Aftermarket parts will be covered by warranty.


Fear Eliminator:  Testimonials and an Educated Staff

  • Look for testimonials from a shop’s customers…make sure they sound genuine and not something fabricated by the shop owner or his/her family
  • An excellent shop is staffed by excellent people. The shop owner will make sure everyone from the owner, the service advisor to the technician is involved in continuing education classes.  This industry changes quickly and without ongoing education a shop’s staff will quickly fall behind and be inept at servicing and maintaining today’s vehicles.
  • Certifications show that the shop’s staff has had continuing education classes in certain areas but they must be kept current.


Fear Eliminator: The Reality

Consumers understandably want what is best for their vehicles at an affordable cost.  We call that value! They sometimes go to a great deal of trouble clipping coupons for oil changes at one place, tires at another, brakes at yet another and on and on it goes.  Some even tell themselves this is good for their car because they are taking it to a specialist instead of a general car care practitioner. In reality, this usually costs them more money and can actually wreak havoc with their car’s health. Eliminating an on-going relationship with a shop who knows your car’s medical history, and all the aspects of the care it has been receiving, risks getting diminished care for your car. Managed preventive maintenance reduces your car’s healthcare costs too!


Fear Eliminator: Trust

Find a shop you trust, just like you need to find a doctor, dentist or vet you trust, stick with them and your car will be healthier and have less need for repair due to preventive care.  This alone will save you money! The fear factor keeps many consumers away until the car breaks down. The end result is a major repair that could have, in most instances, been prevented.  Your owner’s manual tells you clearly how often your car needs servicing.  The service advisor of your chosen shop can also tell you how frequently your make and model needs to have service and what services are recommended.  A quarterly visit lets the technicians keep an eye on hoses and belts that could break or leak, causing problems, as well as other areas.


Don’t Let Fear Rule You

If fear has been keeping you away remember that neglecting your vehicle’s needs will cost you more money in the long run because repairs are much more expensive than maintaining a vehicle.  Be proactive about your car’s health!  You’ll be glad you did.  You will also find that most automotive service and repair shops are excellent, reputable establishments that are staffed by people who genuinely love cars!  They actually hurt to see one mistreated or neglected.


Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!


What A Cabin Air Filter Does For You

cabin air filter

Most of us know we need to change the filters in our homes but some might not realize that they also need to change the filter in their cars. In vehicles built in 2007 and later you will find 80 percent of them have a cabin air filter and its function is to protect drivers and their passengers from contaminants such as pollen, mold spores, dust and other small and annoying particles.  We have recently experienced a lot of particles in the air and you can be sure the air filter did its best to capture as much of it as possible.


The cabin air filter is located on the passenger side of the vehicle and is most often, but not always tucked behind the dash around the glove compartment area. Whenever you turn on your defroster, air conditioning or heater it captures the debris so it doesn’t get into the cab of your vehicle.  It is a very busy part and needs to be replaced at least once a year.  If you or a passenger has severe allergies you may want to get it replaced more often.  A clean cabin filter also helps prolong the life of your vehicle’s heating and air-conditioning system because it keeps debris and corrosion away from the evaporator core.


We haven’t had to turn on our heater fan’s recently, but when it happens, we will get calls from customers wanting to know what that annoying rattling noise is from time to time.  It is usually captured leaves, debris or food stuffs left behind by rodents.  Next time you get your cabin air filter changed you might ask to have a look at it.  You will be very amazed at what it has collected and very thankful too that all that debris didn’t circulate into the cab of your vehicle.


Cabin air filters are becoming more sophisticated…some even eliminate odors.  The good news is that it is usually a quick item to replace (depending on where the manufacturer placed it) and it is inexpensive. Next time you have your car serviced, don’t forget to get this part replaced. You’ll breathe easier…I guarantee it.


Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!


For All The Football Fans Out There: Keeping Your Vehicle’s Components in the Game


Football season is here again in and even though the staff at Certified Automotive Specialists are not football superstars, we are the superstars of auto service and repair!  Just like a football game where it takes each player doing their job correctly to have a winning team, it takes each component operating in peak efficiency to have a properly running car!


  • Fluids – just like you, your car must have fluids to be healthy.  We offer products that give you the home field advantage each and every time.
  • Filters –just like in football when the players block the defense from getting to the ball carrier, filters block contaminants from entering your car’s operating systems.
  • Battery & Charging System – If this system fumbles you aren’t going anywhere.  We will keep it charged and ready to go when you are!
  • Belts and Hoses – One snap or break and you are stranded and you will be calling personal foul!
  • Lights – Your lights keep you from getting picked off in the dark because others can’t see you coming or going!
  • Wipers – If your wipers aren’t working in the rain and snow and morning condensation, you risk getting sacked!
  • Tires – Proper inflation and tread keep your car rolling along in a rush.
  • Suspension – Steers your car going in the right direction so you have a complete pass.
  • Brakes – Stopping when you need and want to is a very good thing and keeps you from getting tackled by trees or other vehicles!
  • Exhaust System – If you don’t want to be put on the sidelines these systems need to operate properly. Keeps your car pleasant and safe for you and others to be around.


This is just a small example of all the systems that keep your car running properly.  Most mechanical failures can be traced to neglected maintenance.  Just like a football team, if each player does their job well they all benefit and run like a well-oiled machine.  Touchdown!


Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.


Hometown Service You Can Count On!


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