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Van Nuys Auto Repair & Service Center

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How Do I Check My Engine Oil without a Dipstick?

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid Where is the dipstick in my new car? That’s what my client, Jane, wanted to know. She had purchased an Audi and brought it in for service. She said when her dashboard light alerted her to an issue with low oil level, she stopped and opened her hood to check the engine oil fluid level. She couldn’t find it. After looking for it for 20 minutes she consulted her car’s owner’s manual (yes, it came with a physical booklet), she realized that the manufacturer had intentionally left it out of the car. Changes in design, amenities and functionality have been standard in the automobile industry at least as long as I’ve been a part of it. Manufacturers look for innovative ways to bring the customer back for service, making it more difficult to perform tasks such as checking one’s oil or for that matter doing any traditional repairs. It also puts a kink in fixing your car in the driveway or teaching your kid to do simp ... read more

Where is My Spare Tire? By Jack Bulko, AutoAid

Where is My Spare Tire? By Jack Bulko, AutoAid

Where is My Spare Tire? By Jack Bulko, AutoAid “Where is my spare tire?” a customer recently asked me. “And what am I supposed to do with this spray can?” I knew she was asking out of total disbelief that her new car came without a full-size spare or run-flat (donut) at all, and instead included a can of tire quick fix. That’s why I always recommend that when you purchase or lease a new car or are driving an unfamiliar vehicle such as a rental car, always check the trunk area to see what is in it. This helps eliminate any surprises on the road. Newer cars are missing what many consider an essential component—a spare tire. Cars used to come with a full-size tire in the trunk. While a few still do, including Mercedes Benz, most spares can be found in various truck models. One of the reasons for the change was the government’s insistence on improved fuel economy. To address this, car manufacturers created run-flat tires or donuts, which also ha ... read more

What Does It Mean to Be a AAA-Approved Auto Repair Shop?

By Jack Bulko You’ve heard of AAA (the American Automobile Association) and may even be a member of the club, enjoying the perks and benefits that come along with membership in that organization. But are you familiar with AAA-Approved Repair Shops, or how going to one can positively impact the maintenance and repair of your vehicle? AAA sets rigorous standards for automobile repair shops that must be met before a car repair facility can receive that designation. To make sure these benchmarks are upheld, they send representatives to visit and vet shops throughout the country. AutoAid has been a AAA-Approved Repair Shop for over 30 years, and we are proud to be a member of the AAA family. But before we earned that title, we had to meet certain criteria. ASE-Certified Technicians. AAA demands that shops with their certification employ highly-trained automotive technicians that h ... read more

When You Are in Charge of Servicing Your Car for the First Time EVER

By Jack Bulko “My husband always took care of this and now he’s just dropped it into my lap! And if you think you’re going to take advantage of me because I’m a woman, you have another thing coming. I have been burnt more than once and it is not going to happen again!” All I had said to her up to that point was “How can I help you?” I could have raised my voice too, but I sensed the frustration in her voice and knew that her anger wasn’t directed toward me, at least, not exactly. I knew that she just wanted someone to listen to her and to help her solve her car issues in a fair way. So, I listened. I wanted to make her experience at AutoAid as pleasant as possible. After bringing her to our customer service waiting area for some coffee, we talked about the knocking noise she heard in her engine and what it might be. I explained that we perform a free ... read more

What Your Teen Needs to Know Before they Get Behind the Wheel?

What Your Teen Needs to Know BEFORE They Get Behind the Wheel By Jack Bulko Your teenage son or daughter just passed their driver’s test. Now you can send them off into the world. They can drive themselves to school, to work, to a friend’s home—all without having to bother you for a ride. But then you wonder, will they know what to do if a dashboard (dummy) light comes? Are they even aware that there is a manual in the glove compartment that explains everything? And if they are, will they crack it open? What are the essential they need to know before getting behind the wheel? As a father and a grandfather, I understand your concerns, but the best way to avoid this situation is to educate your teen about the vehicle they will be driving. Their driver’s license may permit them to get behind the wheel, but it doesn’t provide an understanding of how the vehicle functions or how to maintain it. Take time to teach them about the basics, espec ... read more

My Wife Just Took the Car But Forgot the Keys!

One of the more interesting aspects of owning an auto repair shop is that occasionally you get phone calls that just make you smile. A few weeks ago Herb, a long-time client, called. He sounded a bit panicked, not like him at all. He told me that Jayne, his wife, had just left to visit a friend about a half hour away. After she had been on the road for about 10 minutes, he noticed that she had left the key fob on the kitchen counter. She was able to start the car away because it was within range of the fob (five to 20 meters or approximately 16 to 65 feet). He was confident that she hadn’t yet realized what happened. Herb wanted to know if Jayne would be able to restart the car without the fob. He was on his way out and didn’t want to leave her stranded. When I suggested he call her, he said she never answers her phone when she is driving and refuses to text. I then told him that I was certain Jayne knew about the problem because a message should have popped up the dashboa ... read more

Flying Out of Burbank or Van Nuys and Desperately Need Your Car Serviced? Call AutoAid! It Will Be Done Before You Return!

You’re busy flying here and there for work or leisure and trying to fit a multitude of other tasks, including your car maintenance, into a very tight schedule. If you can get your dry cleaning picked up from your home or office and delivered back to you, your groceries ordered online and brought to your home, and can hire someone to stop by your house to walk and feed your pets while you are away--why can’t you find someone to service your car, van or truck while you are traveling? AutoAid Concierge Service You can! As part of AutoAid’s Concierge Service, your vehicle can be retrieved from Burbank Airport or the LAX Flyaway in Van Nuys and brought back to our shop in Van Nuys to have any maintenance or repair performed on it while you are gone. Upon your return, your car will have been serviced and will be back in a parking space at either of those two destinations. Not taking your car to the airport? We can pick it up directly from your home or office and service ... read more

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Services

YOU LOVE driving your car. AAA LOVEs keeping it running.

YOU LOVE driving your car. AAA LOVEs keeping it running.

Courtesy Car vs. Rental Car: What’s the Difference?

By Jack Bulko If you own a vehicle, no matter the make or size, there will come a time when it must go into the shop for repairs. Sometimes the visits are for a routine check-up such as an oil and filter change or belt replacement, not anything that will put your car out of commission for more than a day. And other times your car requires far more work and parts may need to be ordered. You feel lucky because unlike your friend who goes to a local, family-owned repair shop and has to rent a vehicle when his car, truck or van needs repair, you get off cheaply. You have all your repairs done at the dealership. Not only do they offer a free courtesy car and shuttle service, you also get to wait in their luxurious customer service lounge replete wit ... read more

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General

Is Your Non-Profit Vehicle Being Serviced Properly?

By Jack Bulko Are you tired of having to run around and rent a car, truck or van whenever one of your fleet vehicles is on the fritz? As a nonprofit organization you can’t afford downtime, and yet that’s what happens when one of your vehicles breaks down. Whether you are a small or large nonprofit, you rely on your transportation vehicles for pickups, deliveries, transportation of clients, etc. Your fleet is inherent to the smooth operation of your organization, so when it is down for the day or longer due to engine problems, brake issues, battery replacement or a simple tune-up, it directly affects how your institution functions. And because of the wear and tear you and your staff put on your vehicles on a daily basis, they need regular maintenance to remain safe on the road. At AutoAid, we offer superior repair and maintenance for all nonprofit fleets. As a AAA approved auto repair shop, we wor ... read more

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