Gene’s Car Tips

The Importance of Spark Plugs

The Importance of Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are essential components in internal combustion engines, serving the crucial function of igniting the air-fuel mixture in the engine’s cylinders. Here’s why they are necessary:

  1. Ignition: Spark plugs produce the spark necessary to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the engine cylinder. This ignition starts the combustion process that generates the power needed to propel the vehicle.
  2. Efficient Combustion: Properly functioning spark plugs ensure efficient combustion of the air-fuel mixture. This efficiency translates to better fuel economy, smoother engine operation, and optimal performance.
  3. Engine Performance: Spark plugs play a significant role in maintaining engine performance. Worn or faulty spark plugs can cause misfires, rough idling, reduced power, and poor acceleration.
  4. Emissions Control: Efficient combustion, facilitated by properly functioning spark plugs, helps minimize harmful emissions produced by the engine. This is crucial for compliance with environmental regulations and reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint.
  5. Engine Longevity: Regular maintenance of spark plugs contributes to the longevity of the engine. By ensuring that the combustion process is smooth and efficient, spark plugs help prevent damage to engine components caused by incomplete combustion or misfires.

In summary, spark plugs are essential for the proper functioning, performance, and longevity of internal combustion engines. Regular inspection and replacement of spark plugs as needed are vital aspects of vehicle maintenance to ensure optimal engine performance and efficiency.

Always check your owner’s manual or ask your favorite auto shop to see when they need to be replaced. Turbo charged engines might need a 30,000-mile change, while some are 60, 90 or even over 100,000 miles. At any rate, don’t forget your spark plugs.

Is Your Air Conditioner Ready For Warmer Days?

Is Your Air Conditioner Ready For Warmer Days?

Hot summer days are coming our way. Many of our customers’ thoughts are turning to…air conditioning. At Certified Automotive Specialists we get countless calls asking us how much it costs to fix. There is no one simple answer to this question but I’ll give you some industry-wide estimates so you have something to go on. Generally, if you drive an older vehicle it will cost more to fix because the parts will be harder to find.

  • Testing the A/C System:
    A technician must test the system to determine what is wrong with it. This requires a test for leaks and an inspection of the parts such as the compressor, condenser, hoses, and valves. The most help a consumer can be is to give as much information about when the condition occurred.
  • Evacuating & Recharging the A/C System:
    This is the most common fix of the A/C system. Refrigerant will naturally seep out over 3 to 5 years and will need attention.
  • Leaking Hose:
    We use a leak detection unit to test for leaks.
  • Compressor Failure:
    This is the most complex of all to fix and will be the costliest. The compressor is the pump that keeps the Freon flowing.
  • Replacing the Complete System:
    The cost of this is determined by the make and model you drive. Usually this occurs when someone tries to save money and adds the off the shelf sealer as a quick fix, it always causes grief later.

Trust The Experts

Working on air conditioning systems is not easy. The system itself is built in and around your car’s engine making it difficult. Specialized equipment is required and a technician that is certified in this area is a must. In some countries it is illegal for a non-authorized technician to work on A/C systems. A non-experienced technician can inadvertently cause problems and contaminate the environment.

These prices are not set in stone but an industry-wide average. We will have one of our certified technician give you an estimate after they have diagnosed your vehicle.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions, and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

The Cost of Owning a New Vehicle Climbs Significantly!

The Cost Of Owning A New Car

AAA has released new figures that boggle the mind when it comes to owning and operating a new vehicle.  Take a look!

2023: $34,876 average sticker price 2022: $33,301 average sticker price

2023: $1,015 a month own/operate 2022: $894 a month own/operate

2023: $1,253 annual finance charge      2022: 90% lower annual finance charge

It is interesting to note that new vehicles are projected to depreciate $4,538 per year over a 5-year period.  This is an increase of 24% over 2022. 

It is believed that the global supply chain issues and a reduced inventory of new vehicles has contributed to the cost increase.  Manufacturers are also concentrating on producing larger vehicles with many extra features, and all that costs more for the consumer to purchase and to operate.  

We just wanted to share these numbers with you in case you are in the market for a new vehicle.  It is always good to have the latest figures so you can make an informed decision.

While it’s awesome to buy a new vehicle, we suggest evaluating your existing vehicle to see if it might be better to keep it VS buying that new one.  It’s always better to keep your vehicle if you like it, it suits your needs, and the condition and mileage are within reason.  We can help you to decide if it’s cheaper to keeper.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help.

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Electric Vehicle Owners – Beware!

Electric Vehicles

It seems that criminals have come up with a new money maker…stealing the charging cables that power the electric vehicles.  The cables themselves are very expensive and they can resell them for that alone.  They are also filled with copper, which is a big money maker for thieves. 

Electric vehicles that are left alone to recharge are easy targets.  All a criminal has to do is unplug the cable and take off.  What can you do to protect your investment? The police have recommended the following:

– If your EV is being charged outside your home, try to use a padlock on the electric wall socket that you plug the cable into.

– The best way is to always plug the cable in your locked garage, but some don’t have a garage.

We hope this article makes you more aware so you can protect your vehicle from these criminals.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Damaged Lug Nuts

Damaged Lug Nuts

Lug nuts don’t get a lot of attention from the average vehicle owner…unless you have a flat tire.  If the lug nuts are clean, no problem.  If they are rusty or warped, it won’t be easy to remove them.  Lug nuts are made of two different metals, steel (the nut itself) and chrome (the cover).  Rust can build up between the two and that causes the issue.

Many drivers find themselves stranded on the side of the road when they get a flat tire, because their lug wrench simply can’t fit on the lug nut anymore due to swelling.  Lug nuts are, of course, supposed to last the life of the vehicle but if you can’t get a flat tire off, it becomes problematic.

We suggest you let your automotive technician remove the lug nuts for you as we, of course, have the proper equipment to do so.  We don’t want you to damage your tire.  We can also replace the damaged lug nuts, so you won’t experience the problem again.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Something To Consider 

Car Maintenance

The cost of new cars is high! Here is something to keep in mind. Keeping and maintaining your existing car could be a great investment! The average cost of service for most cars is $800 to $1200.00 per year.

Consider these facts:

Just 8% of new cars on the market right now cost less than $30,000. That’s down 38% from before the COVID pandemic began in 2020.

In 2017, the average cost of a new vehicle was around $35,000. Today, it’s nearly $50,000, according to CNBC. 10% of all vehicles sold cost more than $70,000. That is an increase of 7% from five years ago.

According to an Edmunds report, the average price for used cars are 44% higher than five years ago. Thankfully, the price has dropped 6.4% in the first quarter of 2023.

Interest rates are also hammering buyers of both new and used vehicles. The average annual percentage rate (APR) on new vehicles bought in the first quarter of 2023 jumped to 7%, compared to 4.4% a year before. This is the highest level since the first quarter of 2008.

“Consumers paid an average monthly payment of $730 for new vehicles in the first quarter of 2023, compared to $656 a year ago, according to Edmunds. For used cars, consumers paid an average monthly payment of $551, a slight increase from the $542 they paid last year,” Fox reported.

Monthly payments exceeding $1,000 has hit a new record. 65% of auto buyers who have $1,000 monthly auto payments have an average loan-term range of 67 months and 84 months, with their average APR rate between 8.5% and 9.6%. 

There are better ways and worse ways to spend $1,000 per month on a vehicle.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Make It A Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether an extended road trip, a rush to the airport, getting groceries or just doing some Black Friday shopping, you probably will need your car. Here are what the road-side assistance companies say to have checked out before the holiday to make sure your vehicle is safe and your Thanksgiving less stressful:

  • Tires – Make sure each is properly inflated.  If even one has bad tread wear and needs to be replaced, it is better to do it before you breakdown!  
  • Wiper Blades – Many accidents could have been avoided if drivers could see where they are going, and most people are not seeing as clearly as they might believe.  New wiper blades can make a huge difference.
  • Battery – If your car’s battery is dead, so are your plans.  A simple 10-minute test is all you need.  
Don’t let your car be a “roadside assistance” Thanksgiving statistic this year. Let us do a quick vehicle inspection – it will give you what we all want most on any trip – peace of mind! Besides, I would be personally offended if one of my customers had to sit by the side of the road – and you do want me to have a happy Thanksgiving also, don’t you?!

How Often Should You Have Your Car Serviced?

How Often Should You Have Your Car Serviced?

I know in this day and age it is sometimes difficult to remember certain appointments…like going to the dentist or the doctor every six months…or having your vehicle serviced at least twice a year!  You can ignore it until suddenly you aren’t feeling your best, or you experience a toothache, or your car breaks down.  

Here is what your car’s owner manual tells you should happen and how often.  We recommend you visit us every six months to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape!

Your owner’s manual states that every time you stop for fuel you need to:

  • Check engine oil level and add as required
  • Check windshield washer solvent and add if required

Once a month you are supposed to:

  • Check tire pressure and look for unusual wear or damage
  • Inspect battery and clean and tighten terminals as required
  • Check fluid levels of coolant reservoir, power steering, brake master cylinder, and transmission and add as needed
  • Check all lights and all other electrical items for correct operation

At every oil change you are supposed to:

  • Inspect exhaust system
  • Inspect brake hoses
  • Rotate tires at each oil change interval shown on schedule “A” (Highway miles) or every other interval as shown on schedule “B” (Stop and go miles)
  • Check coolant level, hoses, and clamps
  • Examine threaded fasteners for looseness

That is what the kindly, full-service gas station attendant used to do for us.  Now that everything is self serve, we tend to drive up, fill up and drive off. Think about it. Do you check your engine oil level or your washer solvent at each fuel stop?  Every month, do you check your tire pressure, inspect your battery, and check fluid levels, lights and other electrical items?  Many drivers never lift the hood of their car or even looks at their tires, much less check the pressure.  Some, when it is time for an oil change are adamant that we just change their oil as they are in a hurry and everything else seems fine.  

It is true that our cars are increasingly sophisticated pieces of machinery and that our oil is better able to withstand a couple of extra thousand miles between changes but how about all those other services that the gas station attendant used to take care of for us?  Sadly, the answer for the most part is no one!  You should at least have your vehicle serviced twice a year at the minimum. If you don’t, think about what can go wrong between visits without someone lifting the hood and someone checking your tire pressure and fluid levels.  

Remember, we love cars, trucks and SUV’s!  We want them to run at peak efficiency so that they are safe and reliable for you.  Don’t be a stranger.  Stop on by and let us lift the hood for you.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help.

Hometown Service You Can Count On!