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Importance of Maintaining Vehicles in Winter

The months of winter can be very deteriorating to vehicles. The season which spans through December, January and February in the Northern hemisphere and through June, July August in the Southern hemisphere is characterized by extreme cold, dirty snow and roads covered with dry salt all of which can make vehicles look shabby, dirty and old.

It is said that prevention is better than cure. Just as humans undergo regular checkups to ensure prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of health issues for their overall well-being; it is equally pertinent to regularly check-up vehicles and keep them maintained especially during winter. It is better to do a few routine checks and maintenance with a few dollars than spend hundreds of dollars carrying out a major repair that would have been otherwise avoided. Truly, a stitch in time saves nine.

Washing a car during winter proves to be a daunting effort as it gets dirty again in no time. For this reason only a few pay attention to the neatness of their vehicles, let alone its maintenance. This is however a bad practice as the car which is badly maintained accrues a lot of problems before winter is over. Reports have shown that vehicles break down more frequently in winter months than other seasons. It is only necessary to keep the car in a good condition to withstand the bad weather.

It is very important to maintain vehicles during winter, failure to do would result in some damaging effects:

  • When combined with air, moisture and snow can cause rust many parts of a car. In California and some other parts of United States, it is a common practice to fill the roads with salt to make it drivable during the winter, but salt degrades parts of the vehicle’s body making it prone to rust attack. Keeping vehicles totally off the road may not be the best solution. Rust can be avoided by washing the car constantly to remove salt particles on every part of the vehicle’s body including brake lines, gas lines, brake calipers and exhaust systems which can easily be rotted away by salts.
  • The vehicle’s air filter which cleans up the air passing through the engine area can become blocked by sludge and dirt during winter. This can be inspected regularly for possible replacement.
  • Brakes can easily bind and subsequently undergo wear as a result of road salt building up on them. Wheel alignment can also shift when driving over potholes and bumpy railways. Brakes and wheel alignment should be checked early in the spring.
  • Weather change generally affects tires and that includes winter. In winter vehicles frequently run over potholes due to poor visibility. This increases tire pressure, causes premature wear and damages tires sidewall. For maintenance, tires should be checked for splitting and large bumps on the inner sidewall.
  • Antifreeze rust inhibitors can react to form acids over time which may destroy hoses and seals. It is proper to revert to vehicle’s manual for instructions on antifreeze replacement in preparation for upcoming warmer climate which is usually harder on antifreeze.

Winter causes huge devastation on all vehicle parts. While it is important to carryout routine maintenance on the vehicle before, during and after winter, it is advisable to have a licensed technician or a certified auto repair service handle your vehicle professionally.



Importance of Antifreeze and Tips for Maintenance in Winter

Cold winter is unavoidable in California, United States and every other part of the world. Vehicles are very vulnerable to damage in this part of the season, hence require immense care, yet most vehicle owners are oblivious of this fact.

Coolants, also called antifreeze is one of the important things in a vehicle’s engine that requires routine checkup and maintenance for optimal performance during winter. Many may wonder why a coolant is necessary in such an extremely cold winter, it is however very important if a vehicle must survive the debilitating season.

Antifreeze is a green colored fluid (or orange coolant recommended for most newer model GM vehicles) composed of ethylene glycol inside a vehicle’s radiator. Ethylene glycol act as a temperature regulator inhibiting water from either freezing or boiling in extreme temperatures. In addition, antifreeze contains chemicals that prevents corrosion, rust and foams. It also serve as lubrication for vehicle parts.

For adequate antifreeze maintenance, it should be topped up or changed at the appropriate time. It is usually topped up when the coolant level falls below the full line. The coolant should also be checked for color and debris. It should be flushed out and replaced with a new one if the coolant appear colorless or rusty and filled with dirt particles. Knowing when to top up or change an antifreeze it is as important as knowing the right mix for a particular vehicle and the existing climate. Antifreeze is usually diluted with water in equal proportions, although pre-mix solutions are also available. A good antifreeze can prevent freeze-ups in cold weather at temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Replacing an antifreeze only renews the fluid in the radiator whereas a “radiator flush” cleans up the whole antifreeze system including other parts of the vehicle like the hoses, heater core and engine block which come in contact with the coolant.

As part of the cooling system checklist, all old coolant is replaced by a new fluid with approved warranty. The radiator cap is tested and replaced if necessary.  The entire system including the radiator and hoses is checked for cracks and leakages. Ensure that water pumps and the thermostat is working. Also test heaters and defrosters to ensure they are working properly. After prolonged usage, a time comes when the antifreeze additives becomes less effective, even though it still has a strong green color. The rust, corrosion and foaming inhibitors loses their potency, making the vehicle incapable of withstanding freezing temperatures. This is the point where adding water or replacing coolant becomes less effective, rather “radiator flush” becomes a necessity.

It is generally acceptable to change antifreeze every two years. Antifreeze testers are available to test its potency and freeze point to be sure of the best time to replace it. It is recommended to check vehicle owner’s manual or antifreeze container for proper directions on servicing. One can have it checked by a certified technician who specializes in cooling system and flush services or at a quick oil change.


The Significance of scheduled Engine Oil Change as Part of Auto Maintenance Procedure

Many car owners and drivers pay little or no attention to the oil demand of their vehicles. This nonchalance has often resulted to fatal consequences. The role of engine oil in the overall health of a car’s engine cannot be overemphasized, it is indeed one of the necessary auto maintenance procedure. Changing a vehicle’s engine oil is as important as having it in the vehicle’s engine. Constant check on a vehicle’s engine oil level is generally recommended to ascertain when to top it. Still, changing the entire engine oil and knowing when to do so is as well crucial.

Knowing the functions of engine oil and how it works is key to understanding the need to constantly change it. Lubrication is the major function of engine oil. Engine oil lubricates engine’s moving parts. Lubrication reduces wear and tear resulting from friction between moving engine parts. Friction also could cause a vehicle’s engine to work harder than normal and heat the engine up to abnormally high temperatures. By lubrication, engine oil also serve as a coolant, reducing the heat emerging from an engine’s combustion chamber.

However, engine oil degrades as usage continues overtime. A former viscous and pale golden color fresh engine oil becomes thick, dark and dirty after prolonged usage resulting to an oil sludge. While in use, particles from dust, dirt and debris in the engine mixes with the engine oil leaving a dirty deposit in the vehicle’s engine which contributes to the sludge. Oil Sludge is known to clog engine parts, causing failure in the internal combustion engine which usually lead to total engine replacement. When engine oil is changed, automatically the sludge and other wear particles are removed. Contaminated oil can affect overall engine performance. This is why it is important to regularly change the oil. The generally accepted benchmark for changing engine oil is between 3000 to 5000 miles of usage in most vehicles. In California, 3000 miles or more is the recommended mileage for changing a vehicle’s engine oil.

Not changing a vehicle’s engine oil could result to some fatal engine failures and sometimes total engine breakdown. Changing it has a lot of advantages. New engine oil keep the cylinders firing properly and enhances engine performance making it economical to manage. This also increases the life span of the vehicle. Engine parts could corrode due to water condensation, a good engine oil will however prevent corrosion. Scheduled oil change minimizes a vehicle’s fuel consumption and improves gas mileage, hence increases fuel savings. It is known that most states conduct vehicle emission test to control the level of hazardous gases released into the environment, and every vehicle in such state must pass this test. Changing oil regularly reduces exhaust emissions especially in older vehicles enabling them to pass emissions test. Engine repair and replacement of damaged parts are very costly. Indeed, a lot of damages would be avoided by simply changing engine oil at the appropriate time. As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine”. It would be easier to change a vehicle’s engine oil than actually changing the whole engine due to negligence. Would you rather spend over $4500 yearly fixing engine’s problems resulting from bad engine oil or spend an average of $150 yearly to change your vehicle’s engine oil?

It is also important to change the oil filter on every oil change. The oil filter cleanses the oil. A bad filter is as risky as a bad oil. Rather than only changing oil, it is advisable to allow a certified mechanic change the engine oil as well as the oil filter.


Becoming a Smog Check Inspector in California

Auto mechanics are expected to meet some requirements before they can carry out emission tests on vehicles. In California, they must obtain the certification to do so by undertaking the necessary training. This training is a prerequisite for becoming a certified smog check inspector. It has a lot of advantages. Some auto mechanics have acquired the skill to run a smog check but lack the required training and certification, hence, they are regarded as a ‘roadside mechanic’. Certification improves your reputation and reliability on the job. It increases customer confidence at your smog test station and make you employable if you are pursuing a career in Auto Mechanics. In the automotive industry, technicians who are certified are paid a higher salary than the uncertified ones. Most importantly, only smog check stations with the required certification are approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV.

California state law requires all vehicles in the state to undergo a biennial emission test program in order to check the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere. The smog check process is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) in the California Department of Consumer affairs through over 7000 state-licensed and private stations.


A certified smog check inspector is qualified to perform smog check inspection on vehicles and issue the smog check certificate. This must be performed in a Test-Only or Test-and-Repair station. Some smog check technicians perform diagnosis and repair to correct smog check failures.


An individual must pass a state administered exam to become a licensed Smog Check Inspector. Applicants must complete a Level 1 and Level 2 training and pass the exam within two years.

Level 1 training

Level 1 training is for candidates little or no prior knowledge of smog check. The training is administered for 68 hours in BAR-certified school. This training provides students with the basic knowledge of engine and emission control system required to properly conduct smog test inspections. Some candidates who have previous experience may skip Level 1 training. They include those who:

  • Possess ASE A6, A8, and L1 ASE certifications;
  • Possess an AA/AS degree or certification in Automotive Technology with a one year work experience;
  • Have completed BAR certified training and have two years of experience.

Level 2 training

Level 2 training must be completed by all applicants, experienced or inexperienced. The training lasts for 28 hours and covers all check procedures.


Applicants applying for renewal must complete a four hour BAR-certified update training.

Experience is now as important as the training in obtaining a smog check certification. BAR has made it mandatory for candidates to have a practical experience at an automotive repair shop experience.

Smog Check Repair Technician Certification

Some smog check inspectors diagnose and repair smog check failures. They are also called smog check Repair Technician. Smog check repairs must be performed by a licensed Repair Technician at a licensed Test-and-Repair or Repair-Only station.


An individual must pass a state administered exam to become a licensed Smog Check Technician. Candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Possess certification in Electrical/Electronic systems, Engine Performance, and Advanced Engine Performance Specialist from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
  • Possess an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree or higher in an Automotive Technology from an accredited institution. This includes one year automotive repair experience in engine performance.
  • Possess a certification in automotive technology from any accredited institution. This includes one year automotive repair experience in engine performance.
  • Must successfully complete BAR Specified Diagnostic and Repair Training within the last five years and must possess a minimum of two years of experience in engine performance area.


Applicants for Smog Check Certification Renewal must possess any of the above qualification criteria and a proof of an update training from a BAR-certified training institution within the last two years.


New Smog Check Test

Smog Check Program’s Updated Test Technology

Californians getting Smog Checks today may notice that the traditional tailpipe test used for many years has been replaced by a quicker, computer-based test for gasoline-powered cars model-year 2000 and newer, and for most diesel vehicles that are model-year 1998 and newer.

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Engine Change Guidelines

Engine changes continue to present problems and challenges to car owners and technicians. Our recommendation is to rebuild and reinstall the original engine, transmission, and emission control configuration.

When rebuilding an engine, it must be rebuilt to the original equipment specifications. However, if you do decide to change the engine, these guidelines must be observed to ensure that the vehicle will be eligible for smog certification or registration.

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Smog Check Station Types

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) licenses and contracts with several different types of Smog Check stations to meet the needs of consumers and their vehicles. Stations are required to post a sign so that consumers can easily identify them. Look for the station’s official sign when selecting a station to perform your next Smog Check.

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