Gene's Car Tips -

Are You Driving with Recalled Takata Airbags?

Takata airbags are a specific type of airbag manufactured by the Takata Corporation and they’ve been subject to recall for about ten years. However, millions of people are still driving around with these defective airbags in their car. Are you one of them?

To date, fifteen people have died from injuries sustained from these defective airbags and many more have been injured, sometimes after very minor collisions. Takata airbags have been known to explode, sending shrapnel at drivers and causing serious and sometimes deadly injuries. Millions of the airbags have been recalled, but only a small fraction of drivers have had theirs replaced. Even people who have been informed of the recall may not realize their car is affected.


Air bags

These airbags are used in dozens of makes and models of car, including both economy and luxury makes. Among the brands affected are Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Subaru, Lexus, Jeep, Jaguar, Honda, Acura, Ferrari, and many more. The years most frequently affected are 2006-2013, although cars made earlier or later may also contain the airbags. Some models from as early as 2001 or as late as 2016 may also be affected.

Is your car one of those subject to the Takata airbag recall? There’s a simple way to tell. Visit the website and input your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into their recall look-up search. Also make sure to take a close look at all your mail before you toss out “junk” because there may be a recall notice that you’ve missed included in there somewhere.

Thirty-seven million vehicles have recalled airbags and only about 40% of drivers have actually heeded the recall and brought their car in for a replacement. Airbags are meant to be explosive in nature, expanding quickly to prevent injury to drivers and passengers. In these particular airbags, however, the chemicals causing that explosion are cheap and/or defective, releasing dangerous shrapnel. Please check to see if you need a replacement – it could be a matter of life and death. It’s so sad to hear stories of minor accidents that turned deadly because a recall warning wasn’t heeded.

An airbag replacement procedure is relatively simple for a professional but very dangerous for an inexperienced auto mechanic. Especially in the case of airbags with a known defect that could cause a serious explosion, you’re going to want to bring your car in to a reputable auto service center for replacement. Our technicians are highly trained and able to take all the necessary precautions to prevent damage to themselves and your car while replacing the airbag.

Please don’t leave a potential time bomb in your car because you’re not sure whether it’s part of the Takata recall. Do a quick check or reach out to us and we’ll be able to let you know whether your vehicle is affected. It’s always to better to be safe than sorry! You can reach us at 626-541-2149 with any questions.

How To Tell If The Transmission Is Slipping

Is your transmission slipping?First things first: what does it mean when someone says your transmission is slipping? A “slipping” transmission is what happens when you’re driving in one gear and suddenly it changes gears without you doing anything. You may notice strange noises from your engine, like “whining” or grinding. This can happen with either a manual or automatic transmission, so it’s a good thing to be aware of no matter what you drive.

The Importance of Routine Maintenance

Some of the common causes of transmission slips include worn holding devices, electronic control problems, lack of internal pressure, or bad transmission fluid level/condition. The vast majority of these causes can be avoided or eliminated by keeping up with your routine vehicle maintenance, but sometimes transmission problems can’t be helped.

The easiest way to tell if your transmission is slipping is to simply pay attention to your car. Make a mental note of how it drives normally so that you can quickly tell when something isn’t quite right. Take your car to an empty parking lot and shift gears while you drive so that you know what each one sounds like. When you’re driving normally, notice if your car’s handling changes without warning. Turn the music down and listen for changes in pitch or whining from the engine. If any of your gear shifts feel “clunky” or jerky, that’s another sign that your transmission is having problems.

If you do notice your transmission slipping, there’s no reason to panic – it doesn’t mean the car’s ruined, it just means you need to go in for maintenance right away. Waiting will only make the problem worse and cause issues that can’t be easily fixed. Procrastination is rarely the answer, and especially not in this case. If you catch the slippage in time, your car may just need a minor part replacement or a fluid change. Wait too long, though, and you could be looking at serious transmission repair or replacement.

We hope this answers your question! If you have any other questions about transmissions or other maintenance concerns, let us know.

Windshield Wipers Not Working?

Windshield Wipers Not Working?Your windshield wipers aren’t just helpful — they’re also essential for driving safety. Visibility is a must when you’re driving in good daytime whether, let alone at night or in inclement weather. Old wipers can leave smears that obscure your vision. Sometimes they barely work at all! You may also find that over time, your windshield wipers get “weaker” in their movement or fail to turn on at all. That can be very bad news during a downpour or a snow flurry.

So how do you fix it? First, you have to determine the problem. Here are a few common issues we see.

Buildup on the Blades

If you notice that your blades are smeary, streaky, or not clearing specific areas of your windshield, it could be because there’s snow or ice built up on them. Wipers are made for clearing away rain and some snow, but for heavy snow and ice, trying to use your wipers alone could actually damage them. Inconvenient as it is, you should always use a scraper and snow brush to clear any buildup on your windshield before attempting to use your wipers. You may also want to inspect them for ice, which can cause tears in the rubber or bent blades if you try to use them when they’re frozen. Turn on that defroster and get clearing!

Old, Torn, or Brittle Blades

Age and exposure do a number on your blades. After a while, they’re simply too beat up to do much good. When they get torn, they don’t make proper contact with your windshield, which is why you get that smeary, streaky mess. The solution to this one is simple: replace the blades.

Loose Parts

If you replaced your wiper blades but you notice that your wipers still aren’t making proper contact with the glass or they look shaky when they’re running, in may be because the mechanism itself is loose. A quick check should confirm whether any nuts or bolts need to be replaced or tightened, or whether something is bent.

Broken Motor

Wipers straight-up not working at all no matter what you do? There’s likely a problem with the parts that make up your wiper system. If you can’t even get the blades to move, it’s probably an issue with your motor. Either it gave out due to age or overuse, or the blades were working too hard (maybe trying to push too much heavy snow?) and the fuse burnt out. A fuse is an easier and more inexpensive fix than a full motor, so make sure to bring your car to an experienced auto technician so they can determine exactly what’s going on. We don’t recommend trying this fix yourself unless you have a lot of experience in auto repair.

Whatever the issue, having it fixed is a breeze when you bring it into your favorite independent auto shop. If your wiper blades aren’t working, come see us. You’ll be right as rain in no time. Plus, you’ll be able to get that rain off your windshield again!

Are Car Repairs Tax Deductible?

Are Car Repairs Tax Deductible?Do you use your car for business? Not commuting to work, but to actually perform business functions, such as deliveries or service calls? Then you’re probably already aware that you can deduct your typical vehicle expenses when you do your taxes. You may be wondering if there’s a car repair credit or deduction as well, however.

How Can You Deduct Car Repairs?

Even if you only use your vehicle for business part-time, you may still be able to find some savings during tax season. In order to figure out whether your vehicle is eligible for tax credit, you should ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Would my car be considered a business vehicle?
  • Which deduction method will I be using?
  • What are deductible repairs?

When we ask whether or not a car is a business vehicle, we’re only considering cars, trucks, and SUVs that are used for business. Equipment vehicles like fork lifts or “cars for hire” like taxis are not eligible. It’s also important to note that you can’t subsidize a “luxury” car used for business. Make a note of who, or what, officially owns the vehicle – employee, business, or business owner?

Next, you should understand the difference in deduction methods. Many people who use cars for business use the “standard mileage rate” for deductions (53.5 cents per mile in 2017), which is considered to include general wear and tear on the vehicle, including repairs. If you want to deduct repairs specifically, then you need to keep records of all individual expenses incurred for the vehicle while it was in business use, usually as an itemized list.

Which brings us to the next important factor: if you use your car for business, then keep good records! You can’t just guess when tax season comes around. You need the actual miles and/or expenses. You can actually buy a “vehicle expense log” that’s made exactly for this purpose. Keep it in your glove compartment and get into the habit of recording everything! This will also help you determine whether you’ll get a better deduction by using the standard mileage rate or filing individual expenses.

If you choose the standard mileage rate, then the only other deductions you can make are on registration fees and taxes, loan interest, and tolls or parking fees. When you keep an itemized list of actual vehicle expenses, however, you can also include gas and oil, licenses, tires, depreciation, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and a few other odds and ends.

Record everything if you’d like to deduct your car repairs during the next tax season. If you use your car for business, your repairs should be deductible as long as you file your actual car expenses. You can’t deduct repairs if you use standard mileage rate, so keep that in mind. If you have other questions, feel free to ask us here in the shop – we’re very familiar with the process!

Can Your Car Read Your Mind?

Car TalkI was finally sitting down after a long day, hoping to relax a little.  I turned on the news and heard that Nissan was researching technology where your car could read your mind!  Whaaaattttt?  I thought of road-rage drivers, under-the-influence drivers, and those who just aren’t the best drivers!  Scary.  I then started researching to learn more as I couldn’t believe this could ever be a good thing!  Here is what I discovered:

  • The driver would wear a skullcap that measures brainwaves and activity.
  • The autonomous car would analyze this activity in real time.
  • The system would then alter steering, acceleration and braking based on the driver’s brain analysis…basically knowing what you want before you do.
  • This supposedly improves reaction time and increases driving enjoyment.
  • This also enables the car to respond to the driver’s needs to improve the comfort of the drive such as heating/air conditioning. This keeps the driver relaxed.

Why is this important if a car can drive itself without human interference?  According to Nissan, we humans enjoy the driving experience and do not wish to give up that pleasure to “a machine.”

We will see…

Certified Auto Specialists wants to be your GO-TO place! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help.

Home Town Service You Can Count On!

Cabin Air Filters – Why They Help In Winter Months, Too!


Car Talk

When drivers think of cabin air filters, they usually think of them as necessary in the spring.  They are, of course, very helpful in the spring as they help allergy sufferers by trapping pollen and keeping the spores out of the car or “cabin” of the vehicle.  Some argue that yes, that is important, but it is even more important to make sure your cabin air filter is working well in the winter months! Why?

  • Tailpipe emissions release particulates that create havoc with drivers’ and their passengers’ respiratory systems. When our outside temperatures even drop 20 degrees, this release is doubled. Cabin air filters can stop these particulates even when they are as small as one micron in diameter!
  • Just like your car’s battery, the warmer months cause the damage in cabin air filters that is often the result of failure in colder weather. If your vehicle seems to be struggling with heat/cooling issues, it could be due to leaves, bugs, and pollen build up in your cabin air filter.  It did its job protecting you and your passengers all spring, summer and fall, but now it is full of debris and needs to be changed.
  • How’s your defroster working? If you are finding it hard to see out the windshield, it could be due to a clogged cabin air filter.  This clog restricts the blower and keeps it from delivering hot air to the windshield.  This also lets you know that your cabin air filter is struggling and needs to be replaced.

Call us today and let us check your cabin air filter.  Your car will operate more efficiently, and you and your passengers will breath better!

Certified Auto Specialists wants to be your GO-TO place! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help.

Home Town Service You Can Count On!

What’s the Real Cost of Owning a Car?

What’s the Real Cost of Owning a Car?Do you know how much your car really costs? We do! Lucky for you, we’re happy to share. Here’s what you need to know.

Let’s talk about True Cost to Own (TCO). If you’re wondering exactly how much your car is costing you every year, visit this cost calculator and enter your information. Does the number surprise you?

Now you have your number. What does it mean and where do those costs come from? We’ll explain.

What Your TCO Means

There are a number of factors that go into the cost of your car, from monthly payments to depreciation to insurance and more. In fact, here’s a quick list of all the monthly costs that you need to factor into car ownership.

  • Car payment
  • Insurance
  • Gas
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Registration fees
  • Taxes
  • Depreciation

In 2017, for vehicles driven 15,000 miles per year, the average ownership costs were found to be almost $8,500. “Yikes,” you may be thinking. You had no idea your car could be costing you so much.

Thankfully, your car gets less expensive the longer you own it. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. The biggest chunk (40%) of your yearly car cost comes from the depreciation hit, which is big in the beginning but decreases more and more over time. While it’s not a cost you “see,” it still impacts the overall value of your car, which is something to keep in mind.

Relatively speaking, maintenance and repair costs aren’t actually that much in the grand scheme of things, even though a repair bill can seem like a big chunk of change at the time. It’s certainly more cost-effective to keep up with your maintenance and repairs than buy a new car every few years and deal with car payments and the depreciation hit all over again.

Have more questions about the True Cost of your car? Drop us a line anytime!

Replacing a Car Battery…Why It Takes an Expert!

Car Talk

Our vehicles are much more complicated than they used to be.  Each system is controlled by a separate computer module and each car can have as many as twenty of these modules.  They each have their own “memory” and they depend upon the car’s battery to keep the memory intact.

We all have had to reset our car’s clock after a battery disconnect but these days more can be lost than your car’s clock time.  Here are some of the issues that can occur after a battery power failure or disconnect:

  • Loss of time on the clock, loss of set radio stations and anti-theft lockout
  • Stalling, failure of emission monitors
  • Loss of power seat and mirror positions
  • Door control loss such as locking, driver door switch pad, child lock switches, etc., which are associated with the driver’s door. In most of the cases the driver door module acts as a master and others act as slaves in communication protocols.

If you have replaced your car’s battery on your own and you are experiencing any of these issues, please contact us today.  We can help your car get its memory back!

Certified Auto Specialists wants to be your GO-TO place! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions and we will be glad to help.

Home Town Service You Can Count On!

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