Car Talk Lives On

Car Talk Lives On

It was with great joy that we would gather around the car radio and listen to the latest Car Talk episode on NPR. This informative and always hilarious show about auto repair started in 1977 and was ended in 2012. If you miss Car Talk, all is not lost.

The Ways Car Talk Lives On

Car Talk has a loyal following even today. The show is still broadcast on NPR in its current form “The Best of Car Talk.” Not all NPR stations play it, so you might have to move your radio tuner around from NPR station to NPR station to catch the show locally.

If all the nearby NPR stations are not running the “Best of” version of the show, you can still listen to the show on their podcast.  The podcast is broadcasting the old episodes for your listening pleasure.

Car Repair Advice

But even though Tom Magliozzi died a few years back and his brother Ray has retired from the show, there is still plenty of car repair advice going on via the forum on their website.

If you have a weird problem going on with your vehicle and you’ve not been able to make any sense of it, post it on their community pages. You’ll get some responses that will help you figure out what’s wrong with your car or truck.

Of course, the best way and fastest way to figure out what’s ailing your car is to bring it to A1 Performance Auto Repair. Our mechanics are experts in diagnosis and repair. They’ll figure out the cause quickly and get it repaired right the first time.

But, we all know, where’s the fun in just getting it fixed? The fun is in Tom and Ray’s hilarious off the cuff remarks, insults and best guesses. Sooner or later the problem will stop being a curiosity and then you’ll need to bring it by for a repair. We hope to see you soon.

Big Brother Has Access to Your Car Hard Drive

Big Brother Has Access to Your Car Hard Drive

The future of auto insurance is Usage Based Insurance (UBI). Your agent might have already asked you if you’d like to lower your insurance rates by using a driving app for several weeks for a discounted UBI rate. If you think you can completely opt out of this type of spying on your driving, you would be mistaken.

Usage Based Insurance

When UBI was just starting out, they would get your permission to attach an onboard device, or a telematic device, that’s also called an insurance dongle. These dongles record some of your driving habits like acceleration speed, braking habits, speeding and collisions, then they store this information for the insurance company to figure out a discounted or even an increased rate for the policy.

The insurance dongle’s problem for the policy holder is that it doesn’t know a different driver is operating the vehicle or the circumstances around the decision to brake hard or to speed. So, your auto insurance rate might go up unfairly.

The smartphone app is another method to track and save the same type of information, but an app allows for some user input which makes the process a little fairer. It will allow you to remove the driving session because another person was driving the car, for instance. So, this is what most drivers are using now when they’d like to get a discount on their auto insurance rates.

Insurance companies are all different in the rates they give for using these apps. Some insurance companies will raise your rates after they see your driving data. So, ask your company if they will hold it against you, because not all of them do.

Opting out of this type of driving information is not possible. While giving this information to your insurance company is currently optional, the data is collected by your car’s hard drive already. This data can be tapped into and read by law enforcement or anyone else with the ability to access it. So, if you don’t want big brother collecting data on you, you’ll need to drive an old car that doesn’t have a computer onboard.

What Is a Smog Abatement Fee in California

What Is a Smog Abatement Fee in California

What is a smog abatement fee? California requires every vehicle to get a certification that the vehicle’s emissions meet the state’s pollution standards. The abatement fee will allow you to skip getting these certifications. There have been some changes in this program effective January of 2019. Here are what the new rules are for abatements.

What Is a Smog Abatement Fee

The smog abatement fee is $25 generally, with some exceptions. However, some vehicle owners are exempt from paying this fee.

Here are the new rules effective January 1, 2019:

  • Vehicles that are 8 years old or less (using the model year) are exempt from biennial smog certification.
  • 7 and 8-year-old vehicles must pay an annual $25 abatement fee.
  • A 7-year-old vehicle (as of the date of this writing, it is the 2012 model) is exempt from paying the smog abatement fee if they obtained a smog certification in 2018.
  • To determine what you need to pay under these new rules, subtract 7 years from the current year to figure out the oldest car that needs to pay the $25 smog abatement fee. A 6 year old car also pays the $25 fee.
  • To determine which cars need to pay the $20 smog abatement fee, subtract 5 years from the current year. Those models and all younger models up until new cars will pay the $20 fee instead of the $25 fee.

Additional Exemptions

Additionally, cars with the model year of 1975 or earlier and are gasoline powered are exempt from having to get a smog certification. Diesel powered vehicles are exempt from model year 1997 and older.

Get More Information on Smog Abatement

There are many more details on the finer points of smog abatement fees and the rules. Take a look at the page for smog abatement fees and you’ll find the answers to all of your questions there.

Car Repair Estimate Laws in State of California

Car Repair Estimate Laws in State of California

There are laws that auto shops must follow in the state of California. These laws are in effect to protect consumers from fraud and general misunderstandings. If it isn’t in writing, then there’s going to be confusion on both the mechanic’s and the customer’s end. Here is some of what’s covered by these laws.

Car Repair Estimate

The California car repair estimate laws cover a few different points.

Whether or not there is a charge for the estimate is up to the mechanic. They can charge for estimates if they want, but most auto shops offer this for free for their customers. The law requires, however, that the estimate is written down.

This written estimate must include:

  • The total estimated price of parts and labor for this repair. And the mechanic is to be held to those exact parts and labor costs, unless you agree in writing in advance.
  • You must sign the estimate or work order before the mechanic does the work. Never sign a blank one. Your signature is approving the cost of the repair on that estimate or work order. If you sign a blank work order, then you are responsible for whatever the mechanic charges you.
  • Make sure the estimate specifies if it’s for both the diagnostics and the repair, or just one of them.
  • If you want the old parts given to you, you must tell the mechanic at the time of the estimate. Have him put it in the estimate.
  • It’s up to you to understand what’s in the estimate. You must ask for clarification or you’ll waive your right to those explanations.
  • You can give your approval for the repair by phone, email or fax. The mechanic will note it on the work order.
  • When it turns out that the repair is going to cost more due to unforeseen issues, the mechanic must contact you for your approval and note that on the work order.

California Bureau of Automotive Repair

There are more finer points on this topic. See the California Bureau of Automotive Repair for all the details on the laws pertaining to car repair estimates.

5 Causes of Car Turning Off While Driving

5 Causes of Car Turning Off While Driving

If your car turns off while you’re driving, you certainly have a problem going on. It might be an expensive one, and it might not be an expensive one. This is how you can tell.

Car Turns off While Driving

From the obvious to the obscure, here are some things that could cause your car to turn off while you’re driving it.

Out of Gas

Before you quickly disregard this one, if you have an older car then it’s possible the fuel gauge is broken. It can be showing a full tank (or any other level) and actually be completely out of gas. So fill it up and keep an eye on it to see if it’s misrepresenting the amount of fuel in your tank.

Ignition Switch

Sometime the ignition switch will start falling apart inside. If it shorts out then it’ll cause the car to turn off – even when you’re driving. If the ignition switch has been giving your grief lately, suspect that first.


A dead alternator doesn’t work and when that happens, the battery will step up to the task of running your vehicle. But that isn’t going to last forever. The battery will run out of charge and die, too. When that happens your car will turn off.

Computer Problems

Just when you thought you were safe from a computer problem by driving around in your car, the computer problem will find you. Cars are run by computers these days and they break, too, just like in your office. When a car computer breaks, all sorts of weird things can happen.

You Might Be Hacked

If your vehicle has the ability to access the internet, then a hacker might have taken control of your car and shut it off as a prank. Most car owners don’t think of this as a possibility, but it is a possibility.

Get Your Car Checked Out

If your car ever turns off while you’re driving it, call A1 Performance Auto Repair for an appointment. We’ll get to the bottom of it and get it fixed.

Telltale Signs the Car Head Gasket is Blown

Telltale Signs the Car Head Gasket is Blown

There are worse problems than a blown head gasket, but a car head gasket problem is bad news, for sure. If you’d like to try to rule out this costly repair, here are some signs that let you know it’s probably a blown gasket.

White Smoke

White smoke coming from the tailpipe usually means one thing: the car head gasket is having issues.

Water Coming Out of Tailpipe

While it’s a sign of a head gasket problem, it is also a sign of some other things that are not problems. It could be condensation in the exhaust on a cold day or just the catalytic converter doing its job. The water alone is not a sure sign of a problem.


Engine overheating is always a problem, it may or may not be a costly one. If your coolant is full and the car’s overheating, you need to figure out the cause before driving it again. It’s a sign the head gasket needs replacing.

White Stuff in Oil

Finding what looks like milk in your engine oil is a real bad sign. Your coolant has mixed with your oil. You certainly have some type of engine problem.

Bubbling Radiator

If your radiator is bubbling as soon as you turn on the car then the head gasket is blown. If it is just a little bit of bubbling, then you can try an additive to seal up the head gasket. But it’s always best to have the mechanic at A1 Performance Auto Repair properly replace the head gasket. Sometimes additives can do more harm than good.

Head Gasket Repairs

If you’re concerned about how your car is running and suspect the car head gasket, then give us a call for an appointment. We can let you know right away if that’s the cause. It is always best to catch this type of problem right away, before it causes more damage.

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