Mechanical Failures That Can Cause Accidents

Mechanical Failures


Brake failure tops the list. Brake pads wear out, brake lines leak fluid and ABS systems can also be the cause of brake failure.


Bald tires can cause a car to “slip and slide” even on dry pavement. If there isn’t enough tread to hug the road you can be in serious trouble. Tire blowouts can also cause accidents.


If you can’t see, you can’t drive! It is that simple!


More accidents happen at night and if your headlights, taillights, or brake lights, turn signal blinkers aren’t working…people can’t see you. Don’t be a road hazard!


Loss of fluid, tie rods, ball joints and other components that make up this system can cause mechanical failure and accidents.

Roadside Assistance Calls

AAA and other services are called mostly for:

  • Dead battery
  • Flat tires
  • Cars that run out of fuel
  • Locking keys inside the vehicle

Now…we can’t keep you from locking your keys in your car, or make sure you get to the gas station on time, but we can sure help with the mechanical issues. Don’t let these things happen to you…contact us today!

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!

Warning Lights: After Repair Information

You may have recently had a warning light repaired in your car. This could be a check engine/service engine soon light (this is most common), a.b.s., s.r.s, battery or other warning light.

Our intention with this article is to try to answer any questions about your repair, give you a little insight to how the new car systems function, and avoid any misunderstanding or confusion if the light reappears in a short time.

In recent years cars have become more sophisticated, or electrically challenged as we say, and the computer monitors more systems than ever before. We’re talking about everything from knowing if the windows are rolling down to if the gas cap is tight enough, as well as all the major functions that make the car run.

A computer monitor is a complex sensor system that tests (monitors) certain components at specific times while you are driving the car and reports the findings back to the main computer. There is usually a minimum of 5 monitors on all cars, or can be as many as 20 monitors, all testing the car’s systems; it just depends on the system and type of car. Once a monitor is sensing a problem with your car, you guessed it, the warning light comes on.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky; the monitors check different systems at different times. For instance, an evaporative monitor for most cars has to have the gas tank fuel level between ¼ and ¾ then driven at a steady speed no lower than 45 m.p.h. and no more than 65 m.p.h. for one minute. The coolant temperature must be above 200 degrees and the air temperature above 75 degrees; this is a simple system. So, imagine a person who never drives on the freeway. It would be difficult for the computer to check this system.

There is a point, once a check engine light comes on, that it stops monitoring all systems until the broken one is fixed. What I’m trying to say is once a check engine light is repaired and the system starts its monitoring program again, the light may reoccur for a totally different system failure other than the one that was repaired. Depending on your driving habits, it could be a week or even a month before the computer checks all the monitoring systems. If a system fails, that’s right, another check engine light for another reason.

Certified Auto is committed to giving our customers the best service possible. If we have repaired a warning light and it comes back on, we will gladly recheck the codes at no charge to 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, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

The Basics Of A Healthy Car

Cars are built better than ever these days and give us miles of service. Keeping them healthy is important and extends their life.

  • Oil is their lifeblood. Dirty oil makes it harder for your engine to turn over and causes premature engine wear.
  • Belts and hoses are made of very durable material with relatively long lives, but they do deteriorate over time. We recommend an eight to ten-year replacement cycle.
  • Leaks are not normal except for condensation from your air conditioner. 11 different fluids keep your car running; brake fluid, antifreeze, engine oil, power steering fluid, air conditioner refrigerant, shock absorber fluid, battery electrolyte, windshield washer solvent, rear axle or CV boot lubricant and fuel. If any of these leak, they need to be fixed right away.
  • Tires need to be kept properly inflated to save gas and tire wear and rotated every six months.
  • Coolant, when neglected can corrode and leave sediment throughout your cooling system causing clogging that results in damaging hot spots that can harm your engine. Flushing every two years is recommended.
  • The battery needs to have the cables securely attached and free of corrosion in order to get power to the starter and accessories so the alternator receives a charge.

Keeping your car healthy means getting it serviced regularly. Remember, we are a full-service preventive maintenance and auto repair center. We work on all makes and models, import and domestic!

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!

Using Your Senses To Detect Car Trouble

We get calls all the time from customers that tell us their car “sounds like” or “smells like” this or that. Often customers feel self-conscious about doing this but it truly is helpful to us. Our vehicles are really good communicators. I know we have dash lights that illuminate to tell us many things but our senses are great at it too.

For example, if you notice a puddle under your car that is dark brown or black and oily looking in appearance, that is most likely engine oil. This tells us you might have a bad seal or a loose oil filter. If you see a red oily spot it is probably a transmission or power steering fluid leak. A clear puddle of fluid is most likely air conditioning condensation and is the only puddle you don’t need to be concerned about.

If you notice a smell of burnt toast it could be an electrical problem. The smell of burning sulfur usually indicates a catalytic converter or emission control system problem. An acrid odor could be burning oil or oil leaking onto a hot engine part. A chemical or resin-like odor might indicate a “dragging brake” or an emergency brake that’s been left on by mistake. A sickly-sweet smell and a fogged inside windshield are strong indicators of a heater core failure.

Hearing the following sounds definitely means your vehicle wants attention! A squealing or scraping sound when you apply the brakes, knocks or pings from the engine when you accelerate or climb a hill, your muffler making a rumbling or hissing sound, the thumping of a tire due to a flaw, the clicking of a worn CV joint when you make a tight turn, an engine that keeps chugging when you’ve turned off the ignition. All these noises indicate trouble!

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!

Why Timely Service Is So Important

I’m often asked about why timely service is so important. I hope you find the answers to the questions below helpful too!

Q: I’m always being told I need my filters changed. What’s that all about?

A: Oil, fuel and air filters all work hard to improve your engine’s running condition. When they get dirty, contaminants enter the system. This causes rough idling, loss of acceleration, decreased power and lower gas mileage.

Q: I usually fill up with gasoline when my car is almost on empty. I was told that isn’t necessarily a good thing. What’s wrong with that?

A: The gasoline in the tank is the cooling agent for the pump. When the level is low, the pump is exposed and runs too hot.

Q: I have heard that “exchanging” transmission, radiator, brake and power steering systems are a good idea? Why?

A: In all cases, mileage and use means more contaminants and breakdown of important fluid additives which help prevent wear and corrosion. When the systems are exchanged and new, clean fluid is added, you now have the protection of new fluid loaded with additives and without harmful contaminants that are creating excessive wear. When you consider the cost of a transmission, radiator, an ABS brake system or power steering units, fluid exchange, next to oil changes, is the best bargain out there!

Q: If I have a concern about a noise, or notice that my car is just acting different, what should I do?

A: Call your car care provider as soon as possible. If they think it needs immediate attention they will tell you to bring it in. Safety comes first and they will never advise you to drive a vehicle that needs attention now.

Q: What can I do to lower repair costs?

A: Maintain components before they become major problems. This is the key to saving money. When you bring your car in for service, your car care provider can alert you to future repair needs or replacement parts so you can budget accordingly.

Q: I am so busy I sometimes forget to have my car serviced. What is an easy way to remember?

A: Try to preset an appointment and ask to be called a day or two in advance. If your car care provider doesn’t offer this service, think of the calendar by seasons. On the first day of spring, summer, fall, winter call and schedule an appointment.

Q: What’s the deal with diagnostic testing? Doesn’t that cost me more money?

A: No, it actually saves you money. Trying to diagnose today’s computerized vehicles without the proper training or diagnostic equipment can result in misdiagnosis costing you $100 or $1000 in unnecessary repairs (known as parts swapping).

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!

Let’s Talk Lights

The daylight hours are getting shorter now and we depend on our lights more and more. I have noticed people driving around with one headlight out or brake light and one can only assume a turn signal (though some people just don’t bother to use them for some strange reason!). It is a good idea to test your lights! You can have someone assist you, ask us to check or check them out yourself by pulling up to a building and shining your lights or even do it in your garage. Seeing well while driving is very important, and it is also important that others see you!

If your headlights seem yellowed, we can fix that! Just contact us and we’ll tell you how we do this (no, it isn’t magic!).

When Your Lights Go Dim

Your vehicle’s alternator keeps the battery charged. The alternator replaced the generator of the past. If your car fails to start as quickly as it used to (hard or slow cranking) or your lights seem dimmer it could be a sign that your alternator needs to be replaced. If you are used to dashboard lights telling you of a problem and you didn’t see the “alt,” “bat,” or “gen” light come on to alert you, keep in mind that the alternator is responsible for those dashboard lights! If it isn’t working then the lights will not illuminate.

When an alternator fails it usually does so in stages so pay attention when things start functioning abnormally. The signs are often subtle such as dimmer lights. You may be using all the bells and whistles at once such as the television, wipers, air conditioning, and the navigation system and they seem sluggish. When you stop using one or more of the functions the remaining ones work better. The dashboard lights may start flickering.

When you take your vehicle to your car care provider they will:

  • Perform a “load test” to check the voltage readings (measure the voltage at the alternator connector and the battery)
  • Check the belts to determine if they are old and cracked or slipping
  • Listen as an experienced mechanic can tell from clanging or rattling noise that something is not as it should be

Alternators work long and hard for us but occasionally even the best can fail. The battery will still run many miles on reserve power so this usually saves you from being towed in. As always, if things aren’t working as well as they normally do it is best to have it checked out before it becomes a serious problem. This always saves you time and money!

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 contact us through our website!

Hometown Service You Can Count On!

Ten Good Reasons to Invest in an Annual Car “Physical” and Needed Maintenance

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  1. CUT REPAIR COSTS – Discovering a worn component before it creates major problems can save big money.
  1. SAFETY – A poorly maintained vehicle can drive you into a serious accident.
  1. BETTER PERFORMANCE – This translates to improved fuel economy as well as “driveability.”
  1. SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT – Under-maintained vehicles are a serious contributor to air pollution.
  1. IMPROVED TRADE-IN/RESALE VALUE – A well-maintained vehicle can be worth two to three times as much as one that has been neglected.
  1. BETTER HANDLING – Incorrect wheel alignment, worn suspension components and/or tires cause poor ride and handling.
  1. ABILITY TO PLAN AHEAD – When a check-up indicates future need for replacement of a part, you can budget accordingly.
  1. DEPENDABILITY – A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to stall, fail, or otherwise leave you stranded.
  1. DRIVING ENJOYMENT – It’s more comfortable and more fun to drive a car that holds the road and rides well.
  1. PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP – It’s said that your car is an extension of our personality. Keep it looking like you care!

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 Hazards of Running on Fumes

gas station icon

Are you one of those people that wait until a warning beeps or the low fuel light illuminates? Do you feel confident you can go several more miles before actually running out of gas? Do you make a game of “I think I can, I think I can” meaning I think I can get to a gas station on just fumes alone? If so, read on!

I’ve known a few people in my time who enjoy the challenge of pulling up to the gas station on fumes. Sure…they have lost a few times and had to hoof it to the nearest station, buy a gas can and walk back to where their trusty vehicle finally stopped. Some even brag after this experience that now they actually know for sure how many miles they can drive after the fuel warning lights up! I’m happy those people enjoy such games and challenges, but playing that game can have costly, not to mention damaging results for your vehicle.

How Does the Fuel Pump Work?

Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump located inside the fuel tank and are actually submerged in the fuel. The fuel pump is an electric motor that spins at a high rate of speed. Spinning mechanical parts create heat and need lubrication, which is why the pump is at the bottom of the fuel tank completely covered with fuel.

The fuel pump is always spinning as long as the engine is running, which makes it more important not to run low on gas. When your fuel gauge reads below ¼ of a tank, the fuel pump is starting to be exposed to air inside the tank, instead of the cool fuel.

If you put your hands together and rub them back and forth as fast as you can, you will create heat, when you stop, it will take a few minutes for them to cool down. However, if you put them under water they cool down immediately. Maybe not a great analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Overheating fuel pumps is the number one cause of failure. The cost of replacing a fuel pump on most cars is roughly $600 to $1000 and some cost even more.

What Should I Do?

The best thing you can do for your vehicle is fill it up when it gets to a quarter tank. It will save you money in the long run and keep your car running well. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!

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!