Gene’s Car Tips

What’s the Right Car for Your Teen Driver?

You and your teen may have very different views on driving.

While their dreams might be about the new-found freedom of the open road, you are focused on making sure they get home safely. While they might want to hit the accelerator, roll down the windows, and turn up the music, you want them to slow it down, stay alert, and keep their hands at 10 and 2.

We Hear You, Parents.

Whats The Right Car For Your Teen Driver

It’s not just your intuition. That sports car they are pushing for isn’t the best choice for young, inexperienced drivers. Drivers between the ages of 16-19 are the most likely to be involved in accidents.

Teenagers haven’t yet developed the maturity they need to make good decisions about the risks of steering 1.5 tons of metal down a road filled with other moving hunks of metal.

Young drivers just don’t have the experience to react appropriately to dangerous situations. Even experienced drivers find themselves hard-pressed to make good decisions in challenging driving situations. The fact is that everything happens way too fast and this only increases when you are a brand-new driver.

Can We Help You Decide?

What kind of car do we advise parents to get their teen drivers? Instead of price or appearance, we want you to first think of reliability and safety first. Airbags, stability control, and excellent tires are a good start. It’s also a fact that large to mid-size cars are safer than small cars. Of the 16 models with the highest crash rates, 11 are compacts or sub-compacts.

You might assume that a smaller car is easier to handle and your teen might like the sportier look. Unfortunately, they make your teen less safe on the road.

Our suggestion? Get them the safest, most reliable car you can afford.

Other factors include getting a vehicle that has too much or not enough horsepower. Speed is, of course, dangerous but a lack of power can make merging and lane changes hazardous. Also, make sure you inform your teen about how expensive California traffic tickets are. Rolling through a stop sign will get you a relatively inexpensive ticket. But, by the time you pay all the agencies involved, it might cost several years of allowance!

Narrow your choices down by checking out the crash test scores on Also, if you’re buying a used car, bring it in and we’ll carefully inspect it. We provide expert insight into whether a particular vehicle is safe and reliable. You need it to be a great car for your teen and, just as importantly, your peace of mind!

Yes, we are AAA-approved and ASE-certified and consistently rated as one of the top shops in that nation. But when you want to keep your teen driver safe, you need hometown service you can count on. That’s why you need to call the pros at Certified Automotive Specialists at 626-541-2149 or schedule your appointment today!

How Do I Love Thee (O, Thou Automobile)?

Treating your car right can feel a little mysterious and requires resources and energy. Some say it’s a little like love. You may not want to write a sonnet to your vehicle, but you should “count the ways” your vehicle makes your life better.

For example, it takes you where you need to go without saying it has better things to do. It never tells you that instead of taking you out to dinner, it’s going to a party with some Mustang you don’t even know! Also, think of how super-lost you feel when it breaks down. Even the simplest chores like driving the kids to school or grocery shopping seem nearly impossible.

Now consider the pain you feel for a big repair bill because you neglected your car by not getting it properly serviced. Pretty awful, uh?

We want you to keep up on vehicle maintenance so that you’re paying for service rather than the much higher cost of repair. We also want you to get safely from point A to point B. You don’t want to break down on the side of the road and helplessly watch a tow truck carry your car away. Especially when it could have been prevented. 

So, if you’ve been putting off getting your vehicle serviced, now is the time to show it some love! 

We Listen Because We Care!

Love is all about good communication, right? Do you ever wish your car could just tell you when something is wrong?

The thing is, your car does speak to you. Unfortunately, you don’t notice until it’s “suddenly” acting, smelling, sounding, or dripping differently than usual. But how closely were you really listening?

We get calls all the time saying that a car is making a ka-thump or pinging noise, or that it is knocking, sputtering, whining or screeching. Regular vehicle checkups allow us to hear your vehicle tell us what’s wrong and to make adjustments before these symptoms get louder.

As car care professionals, we keep your vehicle healthy by listening closely and addressing issues before more expensive “complaining” has a chance to start!

 Running on Empty

Here’s an easy way you can make sure your relationship with your car stays strong. When your low fuel warning light blinks on, fuel up! This indicator is telling you that your car is taking fuel from the “bottom of the barrel,” which is full of debris and allows sediment to clog the fuel filter, fuel injectors, and the pump pickup. We recommend keeping your tank above 1/4 tank for this reason.

Sure, it can feel a little dangerous and reckless to drive on fumes. When it comes to your vehicle, though, wiser is better. Your car will love it and love you for the attention, not to mention how much your wallet will appreciate it!

The dedicated pros at Certified Automotive Specialists promise to inspect your car every visit so you have the information you need to make informed decisions about maintenance and repair. We continuously train to keep up with today’s complex, high-tech vehicles and we are passionate about making your car safe and dependable. Call us at 626-541-2149 or make an appointment today!

Unaware Your Spare Is Now Just a Repair Kit?

Do you remember when every car came with a full-sized spare tire? That was before the invention of the small temporary tire, sometimes called a “doughnut.” The doughnut cost less and shaved at least 20% of spare tire weight, increasing fuel efficiency.

Now, to save even more weight, many manufacturers are tossing out the day-old doughnut and replacing it with a repair kit.

Sometimes called an inflator or mobility kit, the repair kit also takes up very little room and consists of an air compressor with an attached hose and an integrated bottle of thick, sticky sealant.


The weight savings is pretty huge. The standard spare and jack is the heavyweight of the options at 30-50 pounds. The doughnut and jack, on the other hand, weighs in at a svelte 20-25 pounds. Your loaded laptop case might weigh more than the repair kit, which is just 2 or 3 pounds.

What happens when you get a flat? No more jacking up the car, taking off lug nuts, and replacing the tire with a full-sized or temporary spare. Now you simply plug the unit in, secure the valve stem, and turn it on.

Easy enough, right?

Manufacturer’s estimate that the repair kit will work about 85% of the time. Those are decent odds, but unfortunately, if you get a major blowout that’s larger than a quarter of an inch, or if the puncture is on the side of the tire, the repair kit won’t do the job and you’ll need to get towed.

Without a spare tire, it is even more critical that you don’t ignore your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). It alerts you when there is a leak so you can address issues before you need to make an emergency roadside repair.

Carmakers are hurtling toward the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which mandates that cars average 54.5 miles per gallon of fuel. Though they aren’t replacing every spare with a repair kit, it’s something you need to be aware of. Bring your car in and let us take a look when you get a TPMS alert. We don’t want you stuck in the middle of nowhere looking for a spare that isn’t there.

If you have questions about this or any other automotive issues, contact your vehicle repair and maintenance experts when you have a “spare” moment. We’ve been recognized four times by Motor Age as one of the top ten shops in America, including being honored as the absolute best auto repair shop in 2012! For old-fashioned customer service and state-of-the-art methods and equipment that will get you back on the road with a safe, reliable vehicle, call Certified Automotive Specialists at 626-541-2149 or make an appointment today!

How to Have a Lean and Mean Driving Machine

How To Have a Lean And Mean Driving Machine

Cars are built better than ever these days and are engineered to give us miles of service. That’s why keeping them well-maintained is critical! To stay on top of this, you need a trusted partner on your side to look out for you and your car. Here are some of the essential areas that we check during regular maintenance to keep your car running right:


It’s your vehicle’s lifeblood.  Dirty oil makes it harder for your engine to turn over and causes premature engine wear. We’ll set you up on scheduled oil changes, ensuring that your car is ready to roll down the road when you are for years to come.

Belts and Hoses 

These are made of very durable material with relatively long lives but they do deteriorate over time. They need to be regularly inspected and replaced as needed so they don’t give out when it’s inconvenient or unsafe. We do everything we can to make sure you’re never stuck on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.


Other than condensation from your air conditioner, your car should never leak. Your car uses 11 different types of fluid, such as antifreeze, engine oil, power steering fluid, air conditioner refrigerant, shock absorber fluid, battery electrolyte, windshield washer solvent, rear axle or CV boot lubricant, fuel and others.  Are you seeing liquid under your car? You need to bring it in right away.  


Since Henry Ford’s Model A, tires are the only thing between us and the road, so it’s essential to keep them as healthy as possible. A simple, inexpensive preventative maintenance measure is to keep your tires properly inflated and rotate them regularly. You can prolong their lifespan and improve fuel economy, a win-win! 


If neglected for too long, old unchanged coolant can corrode, leaving sediment throughout your cooling system and causing clogs. This can result in hot spots that damage your engine.


The battery cables must be securely attached and free of corrosion to get power to the starter and accessories so that the alternator receives a charge. When you come in for regular maintenance, we’ll check it out and make sure you’re getting all you can out of your battery.


Think of it this way, when it comes to fluids, our cars’ needs are similar to the human body. We need to keep our systems flushed with water to keep our bodies running well. Your vehicle needs fluids to remain healthy. Over time, these fluids get contaminated and cause corrosion. Flushing these out and refilling them with clean, fresh fluid keeps your car safe and running smoothly. It rids the system of harmful toxins and lubricates at the same time. We’ll make sure the fluids in your vehicle keep your car running right for years to come!

When you need reliable, affordable maintenance to keep your car a lean, mean driving machine, come to the experts who’ve been the industry leaders in Glendora for decades. Go with the pros at Certified Automotive Specialists! Call 626-541-2149 or, better yet, make an appointment today!

Don’t Worry, Your Carmaker’s Warranty Is Safe Here

Is your car still under the manufacturer’s warranty? Are you worried about risking it by taking your vehicle to an independent auto repair shop?

Your Carmakers Warranty Is Here


Most folks have never heard of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Passed in 1975, it ensures you get complete information about your warranty. It also clears up confusion about keeping your warranty valid. Though dealerships may encourage you to come to them for repairs and maintenance, they can’t make you pay their higher prices.

What does this mean for you? It means we can take care of you here!

Dealership or independent—where should you go?

We have strong feelings on this subject. They have larger facilities and more employees with higher salaries. This gives them much higher overhead than us, and it makes them much more expensive.

But, that’s not all.

The same as dealerships, our ASE-certified technicians only use state-of-the-art tools and equipment. We stay current with on-going training to keep up with the latest vehicle innovations. We also never cut corners and only use high-quality parts and fluids.

Unlike at dealerships where you are assigned an “advisor,” you can speak to a mechanic here—someone with years of experience who understands your car inside and out. This allows you to better understand your options, making the process smoother and more hassle-free.

You don’t have to believe us, though. A recent Consumer Report survey came to the same conclusion: you’re more likely to end up satisfied with your automotive repair experience at an independent.

Stop worrying! We’ve got you covered!

Way better prices. Better customer service. Quality that’s as good as (or superior to) the dealerships.

It doesn’t sound like such a tough choice. We also offer our own warranty—an industry-leading 36-month/36,000-mile guarantee on parts and labor for repairs.

Do you want maintenance and repairs done right the first time, every time? Call Certified Automotive Specialists at 253-854-6762 or schedule an appointment online today!

You Love Your Car, Let’s Keep It Around

You Love Your Car

You love your car even though the new car smell has long since vanished.

You baby it. You pamper it. You keep it clean inside and out. Maybe you’ve even named it.

Because you have a strong bond with this vehicle, you want it to live a good, long life. Some folks keep their cars and trucks rolling down the road for well over 200,000 miles. How can you be one of them?

The best way is to give your car the tender loving care it deserves.

A little TLC

First off, we suggest following the carmaker’s maintenance schedule. You can find it in your car’s owner’s manual. It spells out when to take care of every service for the life of your vehicle. This includes routine oil and filter changes, tire rotations, timing belt replacements, and other services.

If you haven’t kept up with maintenance so far, don’t give up! Bring your car in so we can get you caught up. Then you can start fresh and get back on schedule, extending the life of Yogi, Goldie, Arya, or Vlad.

Also, don’t skimp by using cheap parts or fluids. No-name belts, hoses, transmission fluids, and the like may be cheaper today. But, they will cost you in the long run. This includes fuel. If your vehicle requires high-octane gasoline, regular or mid-grade fuel might cause damage. We never cut corners with cut-rate products—we don’t want you to, either.

Finally, it may sound like it’s too easy to be true, but keep your car clean. Washing and waxing do more than make your car look great. It preserves the paint and prevents rust. Grit and dirt that acts like sandpaper on carpets and upholstery. You can make these surfaces last longer by regularly vacuuming. Remember, a clean car is a happy car!

We’ll Breath More Life into Your Vehicle

We want to keep Rhonda (the Honda) on the road and make sure you feel great about having a car that is safe and reliable. We can keep you on schedule with maintenance and inspections so we can stop small issues from becoming big problems. Because we only use high-quality parts and fluids you never have to worry if Rollie (the Corolla) is getting the best treatment possible. You’ll get treated right, too, with responsive customer service and great pricing.

Breathe more life into Casper, Frank, Ladybug, or Cheeto. Make an appointment online or call 253-854-6762 now!

When Good Thermostats Go Bad

The vehicles we drive these days are so high tech! But people are shocked when I tell them that their thermostat is operated by the heating and cooling of wax.

A thermostat sits between the engine and the radiator and blocks the flow of coolant to the radiator until the engine has warmed up. It essentially allows the car to warm while keeping the engine block cool. Once the engine reaches operating temperature, usually around 200 degrees F., the thermostat opens all the way.

It does this using wax!

It turns out that wax is remarkably reliable. The wax starts melting at 180 degrees (cylinder design can move this temp up or down). A rod connected to the valve presses into the wax, and when it melts, it expands, pushing the rod out of the cylinder and opening the valve, allowing the coolant to flow.

Since they rarely give us trouble, most people just don’t think about thermostats. But they do occasionally go bad, and when they do, look out! Your vehicle is going to overheat. Some reasons you might run into thermostat issues:

  • Prior overheating damage
  • Corrosion
  • Component wears out due to age

Burning the Thermostat at Both Ends

Sometimes the valve fails to close and gets stuck in the open position. This is a separate issue and can happen due to a piece of debris or when the return spring breaks. This allows coolant to keep flowing through the thermostat. Now, you have the opposite problem. The engine won’t reach the proper operating temperature. You might notice the temperature gauge reading lower than normal. Another symptom can be that the heater is no longer getting as hot as it used to. When the thermostat remains open, you’ll notice poor drivability during cooler weather. Fuel efficiency decreases by as much as 2 to 3 MPG. Your car will also spew out more pollutants.  

Upon Closer Inspection…

Our job is to keep your vehicle in excellent condition, such as spotting when a thermostat or other component is going out. We want to keep you as safe as possible on the highways and want to ensure the safety of those you share the road with. Most of you want to know that your car is in proper working order. Now and then, we hear stories about customers who think that an inspection, sometimes called a “laundry list,” was created for one reason—to make a bigger sale. This is not the case in most shops. Those that sell unneeded services don’t stay in business very long. You can trust businesses that are time-tested, especially one that has been around since 1978!

It’s critical to point out potential hazards. We are your experts in automotive maintenance. It’s our job to let you know when your vehicle needs work. We’ll help you prioritize can-do and can-wait items and work with you to navigate insurance and extended warranties.

You can count on Certified Automotive Specialists to treat you and your vehicle right!

What Does That Warning Light Really Mean?

It doesn’t matter if they are yellow, orange, or red. You probably feel a pang of anxiety when a warning light flares up on your dashboard.


It’s most likely because you’re not sure what the light means. That’s why we’re here. We’ll break it down and take the mystery out of it. We want you to know how to respond so you can keep your car around as long as you need it!

Oil Pressure Light

Your oil pressure warning light is usually signified by an old fashioned oil can. It can flicker on briefly when you first start your car then turn off almost immediately. If the light remains lit, you must turn off the engine ASAP and check the oil level. If it is low, add some oil and start your car back up. You are good-to-go if the light stays off. Still lit up? Do not drive your vehicle! No or very low oil pressure causes severe engine damage. Give us a call and we’ll talk to you about your options, which might include towing your vehicle to our shop.

Temperature Light

The temperature light—often displayed as a thermometer above water—is telling you that your engine is overheating.  Pull over and turn off your car immediately! Let your engine rest for at least 30 minutes before checking anything. If you try to remove the radiator cap immediately, you can be seriously burned by escaping steam and water. Once things have cooled down, remove the cap and check the coolant mixture level. If it’s low, add the appropriate 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.

The only way to know for sure if everything is okay with your cooling system is to pressure test for internal links. This is best left to professionals. Call us and we’ll work out a game plan, including making arrangements to get your car to the shop so we can get it fixed and back out on the road!

Brake Light

The brake warning light is often a red circle with an exclamation point inside. It lights when you engage the parking or emergency brake. Make sure the parking brake is fully disengaged. If that does the trick, you’re fine. If it doesn’t flicker off, you might have a fluid leak. This can be quite dangerous, causing your brakes to fail or veer to one side. It is best to bring your car in as soon as you can to get your brake fluid checked. You want to be sure you have full braking capability when you need to stop in a hurry or road conditions are slick!

Alternator Light

A red battery with plus and minus signs indicates trouble with your alternator and tells you your charging system is not working properly. It might mean a slipping belt drive or some other issue. Calling us sooner rather than later will save you from getting stranded somewhere inconvenient, or even dangerous.

Check Engine Light

An illuminated orange motor icon once put fear into the hearts of drivers. It now seems that many car owners are capable of ignoring it for miles. This is probably because most of the time it is just saying that your gas cap isn’t on tight enough or something else minor. Even this isn’t insignificant though. It means you’re wasting fuel and polluting the environment. If tightening the cap doesn’t turn the light off after some driving, it means something is wrong that needs to be looked at.

Whenever a warning light remains on, you can refer to your owner’s manual. It will give you general explanations and let you know if it’s safe to continue driving. To speak with helpful professionals about your warning light or other automotive issues, Certified Automotive has great prices, responsive customer service, and the highest-quality workmanship. To figure out what your warning light is trying to tell you, schedule an appointment online with us or call 253-854-6762 today!

We Are Open To Serve You.  Please Call 626.541.2149 For Service.

We Will Pick Up and Deliver Your Vehicle For Service At No Additional Charge Upon Request.