Friday, September 8, 2017

Welcome to the ‘Age of Recalls’ 

By Janet Bigelow, Advanced Tire & Auto Center

“I am so sorry I bought this car. It must be a lemon, given all of these recall notices I keep getting from the manufacturer.”

If you’ve ever had this thought, take comfort: Odds are there is nothing wrong with your new car. That’s because we have entered “The Age of Recalls.” According to Motor Trend, about 63 million vehicles on the road have unrepaired safety-related recalls. Untold millions of others have open recalls for less critical issues.

Why is this happening? In a word, complexity. If your 2008 car had just three onboard computers, the one you bought this year could have 38. All that software must be updated, because new bugs are being discovered all the time as manufacturers race to put “1.0” systems on the roads. But unless you own a Tesla, you cannot simply download the update. You have to deal with formal recalls.

And unfortunately, watching the mailbox for recall notices isn’t good enough. Dealers are so swamped these days that even safety-related notices go out in batches. Your neighbor might get a safety-related recall notice in the mail tomorrow, but you could drive the same car for six more months before knowing about it.

At Advanced Tire & Auto Center, our team is here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your vehicle’s needs. We also encourage those who are shopping for new or used vehicles to check them for open recalls via the recall database at

When will the Age of Recalls end? Ford, for one, is pushing hard to emulate the likes of Tesla. Maybe soon your car will update itself via WiFi as it sits in your garage.

Until then, though, be proactive about recalls. It’s the safest way to roll.

Holmdel native Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto center in Aberdeen NJ is a veteran auto technician with more than 16 years experience. She is a State of  New Jersey Certified Emission Repair Technician and Licensed Emission Inspector, and has ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Diesel Technologies certifications.
  Contact      732-290-7300

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Car Trends to Watch in 2017 and Beyond

The notion of driverless cars and trucks still seems astonishing to most of us, even though test vehicles by the likes of Waymo (Google) have already logged millions of miles on public roads, with humans only rarely taking control.

It will be a long time before computers drive all vehicles on our roads. But like it or not, anyone who buys a new car in the years ahead will be taking part in the autonomous-vehicle revolution.

Under new rules proposed by the U.S. government, all new cars must be able to wirelessly “talk” to one another starting in 2020. It’s a crucial first step in making our roadways friendlier to driverless cars and trucks. It will also make your driving experience safer, more convenient, and even more fun.

When camera- and sensor-equipped “connected cars” talk to each other, they will be able to send messages along the lines of “swerve left to avoid a mattress on the highway,” or “get ready to stop—there’s a blind curve up ahead and all the cars are at a standstill due to an accident.” Your car in such scenarios will take control, reacting faster than you ever could. The technology could save your life.

Connected cars will also make life easier. In the years ahead, new cars will link to the likes of Amazon Echo with its virtual assistant Alexa. Stuck in traffic, you’ll be able to say “Alexa, play my ‘Serenity Now’ music playlist,” or “Alexa, put in our usual Amazon Fresh grocery order and have it delivered by 8 a.m.” If your home is wired, too, your car will be able to tell your house to do things like make a pot of coffee, open the garage door, turn off the burglar alarm or crank up the AC. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to drive to the front of a mall, hop out of your car and have it park itself. Later, your car will pick you up like a dutiful chauffer.

At Advanced Tire & Auto Center, we decided eight years ago to invest our time and money into becoming experts on state-of-the-art cars. Given today’s amazing developments in automotive technology, we feel pretty good about that decision!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto Center   Aberdeen N.J.

Driving Safer Amid Disturbing Roadway Trends


Our roads are deadlier than ever—and texting is only part of the problem. But this is not all about teens and texting. The truth is that distracted driving is a big problem for older adults, too.   

According to the latest stats, 40,200 people died in roadway accidents across the United States last year. When you add in the numbers from 2015 (37,757 deaths), it marks the largest two-year jump in motor vehicle-related fatalities in 53 years!    

At Advanced Tire & Auto Center (146 Hwy. 35 North in Aberdeen), we see the results of distracted driving on a daily basis. With all the latest and greatest technologies available at your fingertips, it’s hard for most people not to be distracted while driving.  A typical car today is Wi-Fi enabled with large touch screens where you can do almost anything—listen to Pandora, check your Facebook page and email accounts. Manufacturers have also begun to migrate all of the vehicle’s driving and comfort controls to the touchscreen, forcing drivers to spend more time focused on the screen rather than the road. Time spent scrolling through menus to perform simple tasks like turning on your heated seat, adjusting climate controls or even reading messages sent by the manufacturer to alert you to upcoming maintenance needs can create an unsafe environment.     

What can you do to protect yourself and your family from distracted driving?   

For starters, make a commitment to keep your eyes on the road. Sometimes, that might mean foregoing your desire to listen to a different song, change a vent setting or otherwise look at the touchscreen. To encourage other members of the family to develop the same attitude and habits, consider sitting down as a family and watching a film like “One Second to the Next,” available on YouTube. These interviews with distracted drivers and their victims go beyond statistics to truly hammer home the dangers.    

It’s also a good idea to get extremely familiar with the menus and functionality of your car’s dashboard display. In fact, you should actually practice using the technology. This will help you avoid, say, getting rear-ended because you were sitting at a red light, trying to figure out how to start Pandora, when the light turned green. If you’re going to use it, learn how to use it quickly and accurately. (But avoid using it while the car is in motion.)   

None of this is to suggest that dashboard technologies are the only cause of distracted driving. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid glancing at your phone or texting whenever you’re in the car. Commit to this and stick to it.   

Of course, you can also consider buying a vehicle with life-saving technologies. Vehicles with rearview camera systems, electronic stability control or more advanced features such as auto emergency-braking, adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring can save your life when you run out of skill, luck or talent. However, we all still need to be mindful of the potential distractions these technologies can cause if not used properly.

The new technologies in today’s vehicles are essentially a prelude to the new wave of futuristic, driverless cars. Many observers think the phenomenon could one day dramatically reduce roadway accidents and fatalities, possibly even to zero. But until that happens, keep your eyes on the road, and stay safe!   

Working closely with collision centers and insurance companies, Advanced is among only a handful of Independent Repair facilities in New Jersey with the capabilities and certifications to repair the advanced collision-avoidance systems found on today’s vehicles. Accordingly, we understand how these technologies are changing our driving habits—for better and worse.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Advanced Tire and Auto Center NJ: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR?When I was growing up,...

Advanced Tire and Auto Center NJ: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR?

When I was growing up,...
: CLUELESS ABOUT CAR REPAIR? When I was growing up, most women would ask their fathers or husbands to take the car to the mechanic. The id...


When I was growing up, most women would ask their fathers or husbands to take the car to the mechanic. The idea was that men knew how to fix cars, while women would get hoodwinked. But after working as an automotive repair technician for the past 16 years, I'd like to share a secret with you - today's cars are a mystery to nearly everybody including many auto mechanics.
The typical car is a Wi-Fi-enabled, rolling gizmo with USB ports,  Bluetooth, satellite navigation, and an average of 38 onboard computers. This complexity is increasing by the day as manufacturers add features borrowed from prototype driverless cars - everything from the latest collision-avoidance systems to outright "autopilot" modes.

These changes are creating big challenges for those who want to get their cars fixed correctly the first time, at a fair price. Successfully servicing and repairing these vehicles increasingly hinges on access to sophisticated, manufacturer-specific diagnostic technology - expensive factory equipment that few independent garages or national franchise operators are willing to invest in. To save money and offer broad-based capability, many garages rely on generic scanners that spit out limited information. Much like an x-ray, generic scan tools offer a limited view, while in comparison, a factory scan tool is like an MRI of your vehicle-and it takes months, even years, to master the function and operation of each individual factory tool. Factory scan tools, paired with certified technicians, allow access into the vehicle's operating systems. This yields a clearer picture of what's happening with your vehicle, and it can save you a lot of money.

Let's say your check engine light comes on. A generic scan might yield a single code: "oxygen sensor." The mechanic changes your oxygen sensor based on the limited view of your vehicle and information provided by this generic scan. Like a blindfolded dart-thrower, the mechanic just took a guess, but it didn't work. The real problem, it turns out, was a simple vacuum leak. Unfortunately, many shops see the return visits that come from such incorrect diagnoses as an "opportunity" to charge you for yet another attempted repair.

In addition, don't be snookered by ads for "free diagnostics." All too often, these involve a generic scan that could fail to properly identify the  problem. Be willing to pay upfront for a complete diagnostic overview with factory equipment. This certainly beats hauling your car back to the shop and paying for each misguided "repair."

Asking the Right Questions

    Still, there's no need to feel jittery about taking your car to the shop. Just be sure to ask the right questions. Does the shop you have in mind have the right equipment for you specific vehicle? The garage should be able to physically show you the factory diagnostic tool it plans to use. Dealerships service only one manufacturer, while many independent shops attempt to repair all makes and models using one universal generic scan tool. (At Advanced Tire & Auto Center, we have invested in 21 factory diagnostic tools, offering broad coverage for many domestic and foreign manufacturers.)

Additionally, are the mechanics ASE Certified or NJ Emission Repair certified? Have you noticed the industry has begun to advertise techs as "trained" rather than "certified"? That's no accident. Anyone can be described as "trained." But it takes a lot of time, money, and a strong commitment to obtain certifications. Because of a high mechanic turnover rate, many independent shops and dealerships are unwilling to invest in certifying all of their mechanics.

  Finally, you also want to vet your choice via outside sources. Car repairs merit some research. Be skeptical of review sites that allow friends and family to praise the business. It's smarter to read reviews from actual customers on sites like SureCritic.

Holmdel native Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto center in Aberdeen NJ is a veteran auto technician with more than 16 years experience. She is a State of  New Jersey Certified Emission Repair Technician and Licensed Emission Inspector, and has ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Diesel Technologies certifications.
  Contact      732-290-7300

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Gear up for winter driving…...

Winter car care is essential in keeping your vehicle protected from snow, ice, and plummeting temperatures. Winter presents some major challenges for your vehicle. Minor problems during warmer months typically grow worse in winter months. Cold temperatures cause rubber seals and tires to become dry and stiff, road salt threatens the paint, and ice clouds your windshield. Just as you dress yourself in extra layers and winterize your house to protect it from the cold, your car needs extra preparation to make it through the winter as well. There's no getting around winter instead of dreading it, prepare for it.
Check the following:
  • Battery, antifreeze coolant level, engine thermostat, heater, brakes, and defroster.
  • Make a visual inspection of your vehicle's lights. Don’t forget the car's flashing hazard lights.
  • Inspect tires for adequate tread. If you plan on purchasing snow tires keep in mind here in the northeast snow tire are available in limited quantizes. Most tire distributors have depleted their inventory by December 1st.
  • Check wiper blades and spray nozzles of your windshield-washer system. Winter wiper blades do a much better job of cut through snow and ice.
Road salt commonly used during winter is corrosive causing damage your car's paint and underbody components. Frequent car washes during winter months and coat of fresh wax will go a long way in preventing corrosion.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Alignment Rack Install - The Team Getting It Done!!!

Hunter RX16 Alignment Rack

Our team recently completed the installation of our new Hunter 16,000lb Alignment Rack. There were many obstacles along the way but with the help and support of all our friends we managed to get it done on schedule. 

The plan was to replace our existing 12,000lb alignment rack which is only a few years old with Hunter Engineerings new RX 16,000lb system. As the light truck market continues to grow so has the need to be able perform alignment services on these vehicles. Over the past three years the weight of a standard pickup truck has increased an average of 2 to 3,000lbs. Trucks that were typically used in commercial markets are now showing up in driveways for noncommercial use. Manufacturers are adding four doors, big heavy diesel engines and all the amenities you would find in luxury cars to make trucks more appealing to everyday drivers. 

It's always been a challenge to have system that is able to service all the different market applications.      In order to transition from performing an alignment on a truck to a luxury or lowered vehicle our systems have always been flush mounted in the floor. By having a pit cut into the floor we are able to utilize much larger heavier equipment and still maintain a flush profile and zero ground clearance. Essentially giving us the ability to align a box truck and then a Mini Cooper without clearance concerns.

In order for the new larger alignment rack to fit we would need to cut four inches on each side of our existing floor pit. In most cases this would be a relatively easy task however here at Advanced Tire & Auto Center we have radiant heat flooring and drainage systems. After contacting countless contractors and equipment installers it became crystal clear that no one had encountered this situation before nor was anyone interested in assuming any liability if damage occurred. So the decision was made for our team to take the lead in preparing the pit for the new alignment rack.

The plan was to close the shop for a half day Friday disassemble and pull the old rack out with our BobCat then work through the weekend to be ready for install Monday morning at 7:00am. Anyone who knows Janet knows the she is not the type of person that can stand by and watch other people work. Still recovering from neck and back surgery the first order of business was to occupy Janet. So we hatched a plan and bought her a surprise plane ticket to Texas to see her sister who is also her best friend. ( This later turned out to be our biggest mistake )

Next we used a Flir infrared camera to image the floor before cutting. We needed to cut 14" deep and 2" wide on both sides. There were two concerns, one not to cut the radiant tubing which was within 1/2" of where we need to be. Potentially ruining a $40,000 floor. Second cutting down 6 inches  running out of solid concrete hitting the base coat, which would leave us with exposed walls. If we hit base coat the plan was to fabricate a steel frame and anchor it in place. ( Steel was onsite ready to go Brian and I are accomplished welders ). Three hours into cutting, the lights go out... thinking we blew a fuse panel we find out the entire roadway is without power.

No worries a few minutes later our backup generator kicks on. A quick trip to stock up on diesel just in case we need to run on the generator all weekend and we're back in business. In order to have a clean finish we had to stop cutting 8" before our marks in the front and back of the pit because we were using a 32 inch saw blade. Now the real work begins utilizing hammers and hand chisels to perfect the corners. Around 2:00am three Aberdeen Police cars swiftly pull in surrounding the building and approaching us from all sides. After carefully putting our hammers down we explain what we are doing here at 2:00am. Honestly it looked bad for us with most of the building blacked out, one garage door half open and a pickup truck backed up to the door. During our conversation with the officers I explained how we were running on generator power and needed to disarm our fire system to prevent it from going off due to the concrete dust. They graciously offered to keep an eye on the building overnight. I have to say that the Aberdeen Police Dept. is a true class act, this isn't the first time they have extended themselves to us or anyone in our community that needed assistance.

So now it's 3:00am we're all exhausted so we decide to call it quits for a few hours. Run home take a shower to get the dust off and back to the shop at 7:00am. Not before stopping at Dunkin Donuts for a few boxes of Joe. David Shaw owner of Dunkin Donuts pushes me out the door, boxes of Joe in hand, won't take my money says I'll see you later. ( Guess who's  getting the first alignment ).

Sunday morning 7:00am we all definitely have a feeling of accomplishment. Next step is to use diamond concrete sanders to rough and clean the exposed surfaces so we can start applying epoxy. Starting to feel the pressure we needed to kick it into high gear. We needed to start applying the epoxy base coat by 12:00pm in order to allow enough setup curing time for 7:00am installation the next morning. Already pushing the limits using fast set hardeners this was a nonnegotiable time line. 

Around 10:00am I receive a phone call from our Hunter Engineering representative who has been tracking the delivery and in constant contact with the driver of the freight company. The news is I'm really sorry but the equipment will not be there in the morning. Apparently the driver was sitting in North Carolina waiting to off load another order but is unable to due to road paving at the off load site. Our equipment is going to arrive two days late.

Remember the part where I told you putting Janet on a plane was our biggest mistake. Two days late was not an option we service several bodyshops who were already in a tight spot with us closing for two days. How it works with bodyshops is the insurance company gives them a delivery date for a vehicle based on the type of repair. For example the one shop had eight cars waiting for Tuesday if they failed to deliver those vehicles on time they would not receive any more cars until  the schedule was cleared. You may think it's no big deal one or two days but the reality is it's a $30,000.00 a day loss.  Once their schedule is cleared they still don't start receiving vehicles again until the next shop fails to meet their deadline. 

The call goes out to Janet that we need her to pack her bag and get on a plane to North Carolina. We're renting a truck and need her to fly in and and drive it to New Jersey. Without hesitation Janet is online looking for a flight and we're scrambling to secure a truck big enough to haul the equipment. After an hour of doing load and weight calculations we aren't able to rent a truck big enough to carry the load. So now the plan is to split the load rent two trucks and fly in a second driver. The hauler our equipment is on ships exclusive for Hunter Engineering there is custom crane built into the truck to be able to move the equipment pieces around just to give you an idea of how heavy this load is.

We're able to secure one truck but a second just isn't available within 100 miles. I reached out to ShoreLand Construction who is the contractor that built our building for suggestions. Kevin the owner calls me back on his cell and tells me he just purchased a new International that is large enough to handle the load but it's only a fews days old and hasn't been lettered yet. Also their family happens to  be on vacation in Florida so we would have to drive it. Without hesitation Kevin gives us the yard gate code and the keys to a $200,000.00 truck with 13 miles on it. Once reality sets in we realize none of us have a CDL license ( This wasn't a little truck by any means ). Now another phone call to a friend of the shop Brian Gerity of Gerity Property Management within minutes Brian is lining up a driver for us. Brain is the guy you call if it's gotta get done now no questions asked. Brian has dug us out in snow storms, picked up generators from Foley Cat when no one would go out on the roads and countless other save your ass requests.

Our new plan is to split the team  turn and burn an all nighter to North Carolina to get our equipment. Just as we're about to go we get a call from Fred Gopel our Hunter Representative who says he was able to make a deal with the driver to leave North Carolina and deliver our equipment. The catch is it's about $1,900.00 in fuel and time. It was a no brainer..  

Equipment on the way we turned our focus back to the task at hand. So far behind schedule we weren't able to get the first coat of epoxy on till 5:00pm. With no other options we cranked up the radiant heat floor and used fans to speed the process up. Having to wait in-between applications made for another long night 4:30am we did all we could do and were satisfied with our results. 

Monday morning we're back at the shop 8:00am anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new alignment system. We had prearranged to offload at National Auto Parts just up the street. Use their forklift to split the load onto equipment trailers. At 9:15 we get the long awaited call the driver is in Aberdeen but can't get down the road to National Auto Parts because they are paving.................. !!!
You can't make this Sh*#t up.....

O.K plan H or are we on plan K.. Reached out to Tom Roman owner of Quality 1st Basement System. Quality 1st Basement purchased the 84 Lumber building just up the street. Tom gave us the green light to offload at his location and said he had a yard full of equipment and loaders that we were welcome to use anything he had that we needed. Without the use of Nationals forklift we had the idea of offloading onto a tow truck then we could tilt the bed to get the equipment ground level. Call goes out to Greg from M&M Towing and without disappointment 15 minutes later M&M is onsite with truck and crew to assist in the offload.

Equipment finally onsite Hunter Engineering stepped up to the plate bringing in three installers  from throughout Central Jersey to knockout the install by Monday night on schedule.

Tuesday morning 8:00am first alignment helping out our friends at Toms's Ford. 
Special Thanks to all our friends that made this possible.