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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Auto Repair CATEGORY

Thuan Le is an 22-year veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of T & T Auto Repair, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (831) 498-9133 or by email.

Thuan Le

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Thuan Le: Automotive Autonomy

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

MONTEREY — Like many auto repair professionals, Thuan Le regards his chosen trade as a lifelong passion. “I’ve been working on cars since I was a teenager,” he says. “Everyone in my family works on cars, so it’s something I’ve always been around and naturally grew to love.” Thuan founded T & T Auto Repair in 2008, and he says that while being a business owner has its challenges, the professional autonomy it offers is well worth it. “Prior to opening my business, I’d been working for someone else since the day I finished college. After a while, I got tired of that and decided it was time to do my own thing. Now that I have my own shop, I may be working a lot more, but I’m happy to be working for myself.”

Originally from Vietnam, Thuan immigrated to the United States in 1994, where he put down roots in the Bay Area. After 20 years in Monterey, where he resides today with his wife and two children, he considers the North Bay his adopted home. “Not only is it a beautiful place with great weather, the people who live around here are very nice as well,” he says.

Outside of work, Thuan enjoys activities such as flying remote-controlled airplanes, playing basketball with his son and going to the movies with his family. Often, however, he just likes to kick back and relax. “I work six days a week, so with only one day off, I have to be sure I take some time to recuperate,” he laughs.

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Thuan says he’d do some long-deferred traveling. “I’d probably get an RV and go see the rest of the United States. After two decades in this country, I still haven’t been anywhere—I’ve been too busy working!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1987 Honda CR-X.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer, because I can go outside and fly my remote-controlled airplanes.

Q: If you could visit any city in the world, which would you choose?
A: I’ve always wanted to visit Paris.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: I love the whole holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Steak.

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Under the Hood: Getting to Know Your Vehicle

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MONTEREY — Even if you have no prior knowledge of auto maintenance, the first step to becoming acquainted with the inner workings of your vehicle is to simply lift the hood. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn by… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Auto Maintenance 101

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MONTEREY — Host, Sarah Rutan: When maintaining your vehicle, it’s important to be able to identify what’s under your hood. Today, we’re in Monterey with Diamond… Read more

John Vanek is a 43-year veteran of the auto repair industry and manager of Orinda Motors, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (925) 709-4934 or by email.

John Vanek

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John Vanek: Auto Motivated

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ORINDA — While people become involved in the auto repair industry for a variety of reasons, John Vanek’s motivation came primarily from the heart. “I’m one of those guys in the business who really loves cars,” he affirms. “I love working on them, driving them and just about everything else. Even when I’m not at the shop, you’ll often find me working on one of my personal restoration projects at home, which include a 1953 Chevy pickup and a 1936 Ford sedan.”

Thanks to a close family connection in the industry, John was able to jumpstart his automotive career at an early age. “When I was a kid, my older brother opened his own repair shop,” he remembers. “I started out sweeping the shop when I was 15, and I eventually worked my way up to servicing the vehicles.” After 24 years working at his brother’s business, John moved on to the shop he currently manages, Orinda Motors, Inc.

A native of the East Bay, John was born in Berkeley and now lives in El Sobrante, where he appreciates the outdoor opportunities afforded by the local landscape. “My wife, Barbara, and I enjoy going on walks and hikes so we can take in scenic views while getting fresh air and exercise,” he says. “There are a lot of places to do that here, including Tilden Regional Park, which is pretty close to our house.”

Outside of work, John engages in a variety of hobbies and pastimes, from restoring old cars to playing music. “Besides cars, music is my biggest passion. My main instrument is the drums, but I also play guitar and bass.” John also keeps up with his and Barbara’s grown children, Kyle and Sarah, both of whom live locally. Furthermore, as members of the local Elks Lodge, he and Barbara invest a significant amount of time into giving back to their community. “The Elks Lodge does a lot for local charities, including annual fundraising events like dances and pasta feeds, so it’s very rewarding to be a part of that.”

In his life and career, John espouses the importance of treating others fairly and honestly. “I treat people the same way I like to be treated, which is a big part of living with honesty and integrity. Auto repair is an expensive investment, so I always try to use my knowledge and experience to help my customers make good decisions and hopefully save some money in the process.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, John says he’d take some time to go exploring. “I’d probably go on a big backpacking trip—nothing outrageous, maybe just some trails around Yosemite. There’s also a trail up north called the Lost Coast Trail that I’d like to do. Other than that, I would spend more time working on my cars and playing music.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A Datsun 510.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would you choose?
A: A 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My Tonka trucks.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: The Ibanez acoustic-electric bass guitar my wife gave me for our 20th anniversary.

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The Importance of Properly Functioning Shocks

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ORINDA — Shocks are an important yet often overlooked aspect of a vehicle’s operation. The basic function of shocks is to absorb the turbulence (bumps and jolts) of driving on the road—not only to provide a more comfortable ride, but… Read more

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Video: Suspension System Awareness and Safety

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ORINDA — Host, Sarah Rutan: To keep your car running smoothly, it’s important to know how each part of its system works. Today, we’re in Orinda with… Read more

Gabriel Manzo is a lifetime veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of Gabe’s Auto Care Center, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 500-2661 or by email.

Gabriel Manzo

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Gabriel Manzo: Under the Hood

By James Florence, Senior Writer

SONOMA — People find their professional callings in all sorts of places, whether out in the world or close to home. For Gabriel Manzo, it was under the hood of his parents’ car. “I started working on cars at home with my father when I was 15 years old,” he affirms. “He wasn’t a professional or anything, he just liked to maintain our family’s cars himself. Once I got started, I was hooked and I’ve been working on cars ever since.”
Gabriel began his professional career at Cavanaugh’s Auto Care in Sonoma, where he worked his way up to manager and eventually took over the business. Today, as owner of Gabe’s Auto Care Center, he says while the name has changed, the quality of work and service has stayed the same. “The transition from manager to owner was pretty seamless because all the customers already knew me. Since then, we’ve been doing business pretty much the same way as before—the only real difference is now my name is on the building.”
A lifetime resident of Sonoma (where he lives with his wife, Lisa, and their four children), Gabriel expresses his appreciation for his hometown ties. “I was born and raised in Sonoma, so this is what I know. The people are great and all of my family is here, so it’s definitely home.”
Outside of work, Gabriel spends his time on a variety of active pursuits, car-related and otherwise. “I belong to a classic car club,” he says. “We get together and talk shop, and occasionally we’ll put on car shows for the public. I also like fishing, range shooting and spending time with my family. All of my kids play sports, so we spend a lot of time with that during the school year, and in the summer we like to go camping.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Gabe says it’s all about the customers. “Doing good work is obviously essential, but taking care of customers is number one. The way I look at it, if you want your customers to come back in the future, you have to do whatever you can to make them happy.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Gabe says he’d relocate to an exotic locale. “I’d probably move to Mexico—one of the nice areas like Cancun—and spend the rest of my life fishing and relaxing.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Oakland Raiders.

Q: What was your first car?
A: A ’67 Chevrolet Impala.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: A ’58 Chevrolet Impala convertible.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: An omelet.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Mary’s Pizza Shack in Sonoma.

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Timing Belt Replacement

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SONOMA — The timing belt is one of an engine’s most critical components, responsible for synchronizing many of its moving parts. Unlike an engine’s metallic components, however, a timing belt is made of rubber, which makes it prone to deterioration… Read more

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Video: Timing Belt Replacement

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SONOMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to engine maintenance, few measures are more critical than timing belt replacement. Today we’re in Sonoma with Diamond Certified… Read more

Dave Proffer is owner of Empire Auto Repair & Smog, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 219-8325 or by email.

Dave Proffer

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Dave Proffer: Going Ashore

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA — Dreaming of a life at sea, a young Dave Proffer enrolled at the California Maritime Academy to pursue a career in nautical industrial transportation. However, it didn’t take long for him to discover he preferred the comforts of dry land. “You don’t really appreciate land until you don’t see it for five days at a time,” he laughs. “In the end, I decided being out at sea just wasn’t for me.” Fortunately, Dave’s prior experience in auto repair gave him something to fall back on when he returned to shore. “I took auto shop in high school and spent a lot of time fixing cars, so I decided to get back into it on a professional level, and I’ve being enjoying it ever since.”

Today, as owner of Empire Auto Repair & Smog, Dave says one of his favorite parts of the job is surprising customers by radically transforming their vehicles. “I enjoy watching a customer’s reaction when they see their vehicle go from the ‘before’ stage to the ‘after’ stage. Every so often, a car comes in that the owner is ready to give up on, which gives me an opportunity to ‘wow’ them when they return to pick it up.”

Dave currently resides in Santa Rosa, the same town in which he was born and raised. “Having grown up here, I know a lot of people in the area, which is probably my favorite thing about living and working here,” he says. “Not only do I have a lot of longtime friends and customers, my local longevity also helps me get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals.”

Outside of work, Dave spends much of his time in the company of his two teenage sons, Justin and Cody. “We enjoy outdoor activities like camping, riding dirt bikes in the Indian Valley and water skiing at Lake Sonoma. The boys are also involved in martial arts and kickboxing, but I’m getting a little too old for that,” he laughs. At home, Dave can often be found absorbed in his labor of love: restoring a 1968 Pontiac Firebird convertible.

In his life and career, Dave espouses the importance of living life to the fullest. “You’re only here for a short time, so you might as well make the most of it,” he says. “Whatever you’re doing, whether in your professional or personal life, do it to the best of your ability, and don’t do anything halfway.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dave says he’d get to work on completing his Firebird restoration. “It’s been a slow process because I don’t find a lot of time to work on it, so if I retired tomorrow, I’d commit myself to finishing that car.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A ’68 Chevy Camaro.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would you drive?
A: A Nissan GT-R.

Q: Who’s your favorite actor?
A: Jack Nicholson.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: There are actually a few, including Craigslist, Facebook and auto repair forums like Identifix.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite fruit?
A: Watermelon.

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Check Engine Light Tips

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SANTA ROSA — Most drivers know to be concerned when their vehicle’s “check engine” light comes on, but few are aware of the potential complexity of the situation. Here are a few tips to help you better understand your “check… Read more

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Video: Importance of Proper Fluid Levels

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SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: In caring for your vehicle, its vital to maintain fluid levels to avoid damage. Today, we're in Santa Rosa… Read more

Kacey Copeland is owner of autoTech Blackhawk, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 388-6924 or by email.

Kacey Copeland

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Kacey Copeland: Taking the Next Step

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DANVILLE — For Kacey Copeland, starting an auto repair business was simply the logical next step in his professional career. “After several years in the automotive industry, I was considering what my next move would be,” he remembers. “By that point, I felt like I’d become an expert in my field and was just treading water, unsure what direction I should go in. Around that time, the owner of the shop I worked at had another location come available. He didn’t think anyone wanted to buy it, so he was just going to sell the property. To me, it was a sign that this was my next step—to have my own business. Not long after, I was the new owner of autoTech Blackhawk.”

As Kacey recounts, the seeds for his automotive career were planted two generations prior. “My grandfather started a Phillips 66 Service Station in 1966, just outside of Denver, Colorado, where I’m from. My dad started working there after he graduated high school, and I started when I was eight years old. It was a full-service gas station, so when a customer drove up, I’d walk out, pump their gas, check their tires and oil, and wash the windows. Learning how to interact with customers at a young age was definitely beneficial for the development of my social skills, which is something I appreciate looking back.” Following high school, Kacey attended Universal Technical Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, where he earned his professional certification. A few years later, he relocated to California.

Today, Kacey says his favorite part of his job is the customer interaction. “When a customer comes in to my shop, it’s usually on the worst day of their year—their radiator just popped, they have a car full of kids and they need to be somewhere 10 minutes ago. I enjoy putting out the fire and reassuring them that everything will be taken care of. If they need to be somewhere, I’ll often give them a ride. Basically, I try to take someone’s worst day and turn it around into something positive.”

A resident of Contra Costa County (where he lives with his wife, Catherine), Kacey spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “Catherine and I enjoy going hiking and backpacking at places like Yosemite National Park,” he details. “We also love world travel—in recent years, we’ve been to Belize, New Zealand and Canada.” Additionally, Kacey enjoys working with wood and doing small home remodeling projects.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Kacey espouses the importance of honesty. “I like to sleep, and in order to sleep, I need to do everything with honesty and integrity,” he explains. “Often, the news I have to give my customers isn’t easy for them to receive. Believe me, it’s no fun to watch someone’s face when they realize their car needs X amount of dollars of repair work. Nevertheless, I give them the information because they need to know the reality of the situation.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Kacey says he’d head to the hills. “I would probably move back to Colorado and live in the mountains. Right now, Catherine and I live in a tiny house, so it would be pretty easy to relocate.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Burma! Burma! in Dublin.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?

A: “Suits.”

Q: What were you most known for in high school?

A: I was the kid with the big, white Jeep.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: I used to collect shot glasses from around the world, but when we moved into a tiny house, I whittled down my collection from about 50 to four.

Q: What kinds of music do you like?

A: I like Mexican and Indian music.

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Rethinking DIY A/C Maintenance

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DANVILLE — If your car’s air conditioning system has stopped working, you may have considered fixing it yourself. All you need to do is add some more refrigerant, right? The truth is, A/C system maintenance is more complex than you might realize,… Read more

Is Your Car Worth Repairing?

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DANVILLE — One of the most commonly asked questions at any auto repair shop is, “Is my car worth repairing?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always clear-cut. In some cases, it’s a simple matter of doing the math and taking the… Read more

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Video: Is Your Car Worth Repairing?

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DANVILLE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your vehicle is in need of substantial repair work, you’ll need to determine whether repair or replacement is a… Read more

Bill Faulconer is a 39-year veteran of the automotive industry and president of Renson Automotive, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (408) 840-3977 or by email.

Bill Faulconer

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Bill Faulconer: A Foundation of Integrity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CAMPBELL – According to Bill Faulconer, his lengthy career in the automotive repair industry reflects a twofold passion. “My initial experience with auto repair was working on a Mustang with my father in our driveway, during which I discovered a fondness for working with my hands,” he remembers. “Later, when I became professionally involved with the industry, I developed a love for customer service. To this day, I’m not sure what I enjoy more: working on cars or helping people.”

After 30 years with Renson Automotive, Inc., Bill says he appreciates the long-term relationships he’s developed with his customers. “In addition to working on their vehicles, I enjoy getting to know my customers on a deeper level. There are some whose cars I’ve been servicing since I started here in 1985, and I’m even servicing some of their children’s cars, which is a really neat thing.”

Originally born in Roseville, Bill eventually settled in the Bay Area, where he says he has a great appreciation for the local versatility. “We have everything here. From the weather to the people to the natural beauty, there’s nothing that California doesn’t offer, and the Bay Area exhibits the heart of that.”

Outside of work, Bill spends a substantial portion of his time with family. “My wife and I have two grown children and four grandchildren—this June, we’re expecting our fifth,” he says. “We’re fortunate to have them all living in close proximity, which enables us to be a big part of their lives.” Bill also enjoys traveling and has recently picked up photography as a hobby. “My daughter is a professional photographer, so I try to keep up with her.”

In addition to family and hobbies, Bill makes it a point to stay actively involved in his local community. “I enjoy volunteering at local outreach centers,” he says, “and I also meet weekly with a group of people who are focused on helping the less fortunate.”

In both his professional and personal life, Bill emphasizes the importance of integrity. “There are a lot of auto shops that know how to repair cars, but what distinguishes mine is the fact that my integrity has never come into question,” he says. “Integrity is everything—it’s what my whole reputation and life is based upon.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Bill says he’d spend more time with his children, both at home and abroad. “My wife and I sponsor a couple of kids in Uganda, so in addition to spending more time with my grandchildren here, we’d love to have the opportunity to meet them.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: Definitely a dog person—we have two golden retrievers.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Sit in front of a real wood-burning fire.

Q: Do you have any nicknames?
A: When I was a child, my nickname was Bill-Bill. Since my dad and I share the same name, Mom got tired of calling one Bill and having us both answer.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Easter, because of my faith.

Q: If you could time-travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past. There were a lot of quality people who came before us, and I think we could gain a lot of insight from them.

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Do-It-Yourself Vehicle Maintenance

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CAMPBELL — Many aspects of auto maintenance are best left to a professional, but there are some things you can easily do yourself. Here are two do-it-yourself measures you can take to improve your driving experience: Tire pressure maintenance While regulating… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: At-Home Auto Care

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CAMPBELL — Host, Sarah Rutan: Two important parts of caring for your vehicle include tire pressure and air filters. Today, we're in Campbell with Diamond Certified Expert… Read more

Eduardo Porta is a lifetime veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of Fremont Foreign Auto, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (510) 394-4979 or by email.

Eduardo Porta

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Eduardo Porta: Living the Dream

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

FREMONT — When asked how he got started in the auto repair industry, Eduardo Porta says it runs in his family. “There are a lot of mechanics in my family, including my grandfather, father and four uncles, so it was natural for me to get involved with cars. That’s why I thought it was funny when my dad told me he wanted me to be a lawyer when I was a teenager. I wasn’t interested in going to school; the only thing I cared about was working on cars.”

Born and raised in Brazil, Eduardo came to the United States as a young man in pursuit of the American Dream. “In Brazil, labor isn’t well-recognized, so mechanics don’t make much money,” he explains. “I knew if I came to the U.S., I’d have a better chance at achieving success. So, at the age of 23, I arrived in Los Angeles with $8 in my pocket and no contacts.”

Despite his humble arrival, Eduardo was determined to fulfill his dreams of prosperity. Through a series of auspicious events, he found a place to stay and started working at an auto repair shop in Colma. Eventually, Eduardo obtained his green card, got married, started a family and became owner of his own repair shop.

Today, as owner of Fremont Foreign Auto, Eduardo says he enjoys dual aspects of his long-time career. “First of all, I love working on cars. The second thing I really like is interacting with customers. If you talk to a lot of mechanics, they’ll say dealing with customers is their least favorite part, but I love it. I guess I’m just a people person.”

A resident of Fremont (where he lives with his wife, Karla Miranda, and their children, Ariel and Izabela), Eduardo expresses his appreciation for his adopted hometown. “I love living in Fremont,” he says. “I like the people, the weather is great, the schools are excellent and it has been a great place to raise our children. There are also plenty of places to go motorcycling on the weekends.”

Outside of work, Eduardo engages in a variety of active pastimes. “I love to travel and I’m nuts about motorcycles—I own 12 of them!” he says. “I also love gardening at home, going to the movies and going dancing with my wife. I usually drag my daughter along, too, because my wife can’t keep up with me!”

In his life and career, Eduardo espouses the importance of honesty. “My father always told me the most important part of being successful in business is honesty,” he says. “If a customer comes in with a problem you can’t fix, be honest and tell them you can’t fix it. Of course, I’ve yet to find myself in that situation—I’ve never had a car come in that I couldn’t fix—but if I ever do, I won’t be ashamed to be honest about it.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Eduardo says he’d go for his longest motorcycle ride yet. “I’d jump on my bike and go around the world. That’s something I’m actually working up to. Last November, I rode down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and next year I’m planning to ride all the way to Brazil.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: I’ve done everything from skydiving to scuba diving, but the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done is take my Ducati up to 185 miles per hour.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Australia—there are a lot of beautiful areas to go motorcycling.

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1967 Ford Corcel, which is a model that’s made in Brazil.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Papillon Restaurant in Fremont.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird. I’m in bed by 9pm because I wake up at 4:30 every morning.

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Why You Shouldn’t Resurface Your Brake Rotors

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FREMONT — Whether you drive an older or newer car, whether it’s a foreign or domestic model, there’s one thing you shouldn’t waste your money on: resurfacing your brake rotors. Resurfacing is a method for restoring and extending the operating lifespan of… Read more

Reconsidering Synthetic Oil Change Intervals

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FREMONT — With the growing prevalence of synthetic engine oil, oil change intervals have become a hot topic for high-end car owners. Because of synthetic oil’s superior performance, the typical oil change interval for a high-end car is several thousand miles longer… Read more

Transmission Service for Automatic Vehicles

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FREMONT — The transmission is an important part of any car, but if you own an automatic vehicle, you need to be particularly diligent about ongoing maintenance. Ideally, you should have your transmission serviced every 30,000 miles. During the service, a professional… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Rethinking Synthetic Oil Change Intervals

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FREMONT — Host, Sarah Rutan: Many high-end car manufacturers now recommend a 10,000-mile oil change interval, but is this really a good idea? Today we’re in Fremont with… Read more

Gurjit Singh is owner of Reliant Auto Repair, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (408) 884-0296 or by email.

Gurjit Singh

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Gurjit Singh: A New Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Gurjit Singh was a high school teacher in his home country of India, but when he came to the United States, he seized the opportunity to pursue his true professional passion. “Growing up, I was always interested in auto repair, but my parents didn’t consider it a fitting profession, so I ended up becoming a teacher instead,” he explains. “In 2003, I came to the U.S. in search of new opportunities. Since I was making a fresh start, I decided to pursue the career in auto repair I’d always wanted. After becoming certified in auto repair and smog at WyoTech, I spent a few years working for an auto repair shop before starting my own business in 2010.”

Today, as owner of Reliant Auto Repair, Gurjit says his favorite part of his job is employing his investigative skills. “I enjoy diagnostics—that’s what has always interested me the most. I have fun figuring out what’s wrong and finding solutions for my customers’ car problems.”

A resident of San Jose (where he lives with his wife, Amarjit, and their two children), Gurjit spends much of his time outside of work tending to his garden. “I love working in my yard,” he affirms. “For the most part, I’ve focused on cultivating ornamental plants and trees, but I recently started growing vegetables as well.” When he’s not gardening, Gurjit likes spending time with his family, whether by going to the movies, eating out or taking the occasional long weekend at the beach.

In his life and career, Gurjit espouses the value of determination. “I think that’s a key attribute to success,” he says. “In the course of pursuing my automotive career, there were times when I got discouraged and felt ready to back out. However, rather than giving in to those negative feelings, I dug in my heels and stayed with it. I decided I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from achieving my dream, and here I am today.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gurjit says he’d donate a pint. “The first thing I’d do is donate some blood—I’ve always wanted to do that but I can never seem to find the time. I’d also like to volunteer my time to doing some charity work. After that, I would do some traveling and see more of the U.S.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I would see more of the United States. I’ve been in San Jose since I arrived here in 2003 and have yet to venture outside of California!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1998 Maruti 800. A collaboration between Suzuki and Maruti, it was a very small car with an 800cc engine.

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Tea.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Bombay Garden in Santa Clara.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The harmonium.

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Maintaining Your Car’s Water Pump

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SAN JOSE — A crucial yet often-overlooked vehicle component is the water pump. As the heart of the engine’s cooling system, the water pump continually delivers coolant (antifreeze) to the engine and radiator to prevent them from overheating. Not surprisingly, when a… Read more

Will Trbovich is a 50-year veteran of the auto repair industry and the owner of Acurit Auto Repair, a Diamond Certified company since 2003. Contact Will at(707) 722-7934or by email.

Will Trbovich

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Will Trbovich: Spirit of Sustainability

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK – Most people don’t associate auto repair with environmental consciousness, but for Will Trbovich, owner of Acurit Auto Repair in Rohnert Park, a passion for sustaining the planet goes hand in hand with his overall business philosophy. “As a Green business, we believe in repairing and maintaining things rather than throwing them away,” he explains. “By servicing each vehicle with a mind to maximize its lifespan, we do our part to prevent waste.” Will’s environmental awareness also includes specializing in hybrid vehicles and taking part in AAA’s battery recycling program, but when he first became interested in auto repair at the age of 16, he was less concerned about his carbon footprint than about getting behind the wheel of his dream car.

Many mechanics have stories about their first loves, and Will’s is a classic rendition of “the one that got away.” “It was a ’49 Oldsmobile Coupe with a beautiful yellow paint job and a green top,” he remembers. “I had just bought it and was driving it to show off to my friends when it just stopped running.” After taking the bus home, Will immediately resold the car to his friend who was a mechanic. What happened next would alter the course of his life. “I brought my buddy to where the car was parked. He lifted the hood, told me to turn it over, popped off the distributor cap, made a quick adjustment and it started right up. As I watched him drive away with my car, I remember thinking to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Will immediately set to pursuing his newfound goal in the most direct way he could—by seeking employment opportunities that would immerse him in the field. “I would take a job at any place that would teach me auto mechanics, even if it was just a gas station,” he says. “I told the owners upfront, ‘I’ll work for you, but you have to teach me how to repair cars or send me to school, because that’s what I want to do.’” Over the next several years, Will would receive a thorough industry education between the shop and the classroom before eventually opening Acurit Auto Repair in 1996.

Having spent the bulk of his life in an urban setting, Will says he has a special appreciation for the natural beauty, temperate weather and slower pace of Sonoma County. His love of the outdoors is evident in the way he spends his time outside of the shop. “My main hobby is golf—I play three or four times a week. I’m a private pilot as well, so I do a little flying on the weekends with friends and family.” Will also volunteers at the Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen, where he facilitates nature hikes for elementary school classes. “I love being out in nature and I love kids, so it’s a really good fit for me. We take them on three-hour hikes through the preserve and show them what things were like before humans moved in and paved everything.”

Will’s dedication to educating the younger generation is yet another offshoot of the emphasis on sustainability and environmental stewardship that marks his business practices. “There’s a quote from an old Indian chief that I read to the kids during the hikes which says, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for,’” he shares. “It basically means it’s up to each of us as individuals to protect the environment. I think that really speaks to the way I try to live my life and run my business.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could time-travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future. I like the direction we’re going with technology, so I’d love to be able to travel more quickly and beam from one place to another—like, “Beam me up, Scottie,” you know?

Q: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
A: I would love to drive an Acura NSX. I have a bit of a heavy foot, so I’ve learned to stay away from those fast sports cars, but maybe now I’m mature enough to not put the pedal to the metal.

Q: Ever read a book more than once?
A: I think I’ve read Siddartha by Hermann Hesse four times. I’ve also read The Greatest Game Ever Played a couple of times.

Q: What’s your favorite winery?
A: Either St. Francis or Kenwood Vineyards, because they both make good wines for affordable prices. I’m not into wines that are $65 a bottle.

Q: Who’s your favorite musician?
A: Van Morrison.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: A bakery.

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Understanding Your Vehicle’s Air Filters

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ROHNERT PARK — You’re probably aware that your home’s furnace has a filter that keeps your indoor air relatively clean. But did you know there’s a similar situation in your car? In fact, your vehicle likely has not one but two types… Read more

Proper Steps for a Vehicle Inspection

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ROHNERT PARK — When taking your vehicle to a shop for a repair or maintenance service, one thing you should expect to receive is a full inspection. However, while most auto shops claim to provide inspections, it’s hard to know how thoroughly… Read more

Avoiding Unnecessary Caliper Replacement

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ROHNERT PARK — Why is it that some brake jobs are more expensive than others? In some cases, it’s because an auto repair shop recommends replacing major components of your car’s brake system, such as the calipers. Replacing the calipers… Read more

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Video: What’s in a Vehicle Inspection?

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Most auto shops claim to provide full vehicle inspections with every service, but what exactly should this entail? Today we’re in… Read more

Wayne Pentecost is a veteran of the automotive industry and owner of Wayne & Son’s Automotive Repair, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 276-6975 or by email.

Wayne Pentecost

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Wayne Pentecost: Like Father, Like Sons

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA — Like many automotive professionals, Wayne Pentecost started working on cars at an early age. However, in addition to being an extension of his personal interests, his primary motivation came from a sense of responsibility. “I did my first tune-up when I was eight years old,” he remembers. “My mom was a single mother and couldn’t afford to take our car to a shop, so I decided to do it myself. I guess I just had a natural mechanical ability, because it came easy to me.”

Despite his early proficiency in automotive work, Wayne didn’t make it his livelihood until many years later, following a lengthy career as a tool and die maker. Eventually, he reconnected with his first love and opened Wayne & Son’s Automotive Repair in 1987. Today, Wayne says he enjoys working alongside his two sons, Brett and Cody. “When they were young, the boys would always be underneath the cars with me, handing me wrenches and just watching what I was doing. Now we’re still working together—the only difference is I’m not the only one who’s a certified mechanic.”

Originally from San Fernando, Wayne now resides in Santa Rosa with his wife, Nanette, where he says he appreciates the close proximity to local sites of interest. “We’re close to the beach, the redwoods, the mountains and San Francisco, so it’s really an ideal location. My wife and I enjoy taking weekend trips in our trailer to some of the nearby destinations.”

When he’s not at his auto shop, Wayne spends much of his time tinkering and manufacturing things in his other shop. “I have a little machine shop that’s complete with a lathe, mill and grinder,” he explains. “It’s a lot of fun building and creating stuff—right now I’m making some brackets for a local winery.” Additionally, Wayne likes being active in his local church and keeping in touch with his and Nanette’s other son, Shawn, who is a nuclear technician with the Navy.

In his life and career, Wayne espouses the importance of operating with integrity. “We stand by our work—if there’s ever a problem with something we’ve worked on, we take care of it,” he affirms. “We’re one of the few shops that give a two-year/24-month parts and labor warranty, which speaks to the level of integrity we’re committed to.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Wayne says in addition to spending more time working in his machine shop, he would get involved in missionary work. “My wife and I have talked about going on a mission trip to Europe, Mexico or Africa. There are so many places to go!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers. Also, my favorite NASCAR driver is Jeff Gordon.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: La Gare in Santa Rosa.

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1972 Chevrolet Vega hatchback.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Oreos and milk.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: The toolbox my mother gave me.

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Little-Known Factors that Affect Fuel Economy

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SANTA ROSA — Most people know tire pressure can affect fuel economy, but there are several lesser-known factors that can have an equally significant impact. One of these is the condition of your engine air filter. When an air filter… Read more

Replacing Your Timing Belt

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SANTA ROSA − One of the most important auto maintenance services is having your engine’s timing belt replaced. This critical component controls the rotation of the camshafts, synchronizing the sequence of valves opening and closing with the up-and-down movement of the pistons.… Read more

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Video: Understanding Your Timing Belt

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SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: Due to the critical role a timing belt plays in vehicle operation, it’s worthwhile to gain a better understanding of what it… Read more

Dave Erickson is owner of Automotive Excellence, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 652-9793 or by email.

Dave Erickson

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Dave Erickson: Taking the Long Road

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — A lifelong veteran of the automotive industry, Dave Erickson has traveled a long and storied road to arrive at professional success. It all started when he was just a boy. “I grew up on a 100-acre ranch, where we had lots of tractors and other vehicles that needed to be maintained,” he remembers. “My dad was gone a lot for work, so I was the one who had to keep all the equipment running. I pretty much taught myself by reading books and tinkering around from a young age.”

When Dave was a teenager, he took a step further down the road when he got his first proper job. “When I was 16, I got hired as a technician at a Volkswagen repair facility. Later, I became a shop foreman for a Mercedes-Benz dealership. After that, I worked at several different auto shops in the Bay Area before I finally ended up at Automotive Excellence. When the owner, Mike, announced his plans to retire, I saw it as an opportunity to take the next step in my career. My wife, Terri, and I purchased the business from him and became the new owners in 2019.”

Today, Dave says his favorite part of his job is taking care of customers. “I like taking care of people in general, so taking care of customers is a pleasure. It’s very gratifying to see how happy a customer gets when you repair their vehicle for a cost they can afford. People also appreciate the fact that we help them prioritize services so they can budget accordingly and get the work that they need.”

A resident of Santa Rosa, Dave spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “Terri and I are outdoors people, so we go camping and fishing all over Northern California,” he details. “We also like going for rides up the coast on my ’99 Harley Fat Boy motorcycle.” Additionally, Dave enjoys spending time with his family. “Our son, David Jr., works for us as a technician, and our daughter and her family live with us, so we’re all very close. I enjoy the fact that I get to see my two grandkids every day.”

When asked about a professional philosophy, Dave espouses the importance of integrity. “Be honest and act as if everybody is watching you at all times,” he recommends. “That’s what integrity is all about—doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. Even if some customers don’t appreciate it, there are plenty who do, and in all cases there’s a sense of gratification in knowing you did right by them.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Dave says he’d take a road trip. “I’d pack up my travel trailer and hit every state in this country, just taking in the sights. I’d probably drag my motorcycle along, too—that way, Terri and I could go on rides along the way.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: An early bird. I’m the guy who’s up at 4am, waiting for everyone else to wake up.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Fig bars.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: I would probably go to Germany. As a certified Mercedes-Benz technician, it would be neat to visit the headquarters.

Q: What kinds of books do you like?

A: I’m interested in engineering and the technical aspects of automotive work, so I read a lot of tech books and journals.

Q: Pancakes or waffles?

A: Pancakes.

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Regenerative Braking: A Beneficial Prius Feature

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ROHNERT PARK  — If you own a Toyota Prius, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the features it provides. One beneficial feature is regenerative braking, an automotive innovation found in most modern hybrid and electric vehicles. To utilize this feature in… Read more

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Video: A Beneficial Prius Feature

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Do you own a Toyota Prius? If so, make sure you’re taking advantage of its regenerative braking feature. Today we’re in… Read more

Walee Gon is a 27-year veteran of the automotive industry and president of Faxon Garage, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 830-8930 or by email.

Walee Gon

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Walee Gon: The Gift

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO – Looking back on his life and career, Walee Gon attributes much of his success to the wisdom and inspiration he’s drawn from others, both in person and in print. The sum of these positive influences amounts to what he considers the greatest gift he’s ever received: self-actualization. “This gift has helped me realize my full potential,” says Walee. “It wasn’t given to me by just one person, but rather by several inspiring individuals, including friends, mentors, teachers and authors. I think it’s the best gift I’ve ever received because it showed me what I was capable of and empowered me to achieve it.”

While Walee’s career achievement was bolstered by inspirational influences, his gravitation toward auto repair initially sprang from a simple boyhood fascination. “As a child, I looked at cars as the ultimate toys,” he remembers. “To this day, I consider myself a lover of the automobile.” It’s no surprise that Walee’s first foray into the industry held more than mere financial motivation. “I got my first part-time job while in high school, working at an auto parts store,” he recalls. “In addition to making some extra money, it gave me an opportunity to learn about cars and the industry.”

Just a couple years later, Walee took the knowledge and experience he’d acquired and struck out on his own. “I started an automotive accessories and performance business in 1993, which I ran until 2005,” he explains. “It was at that point I decided to go in another direction and expand to the servicing side of the business. I purchased Faxon Garage, and that’s where I am today.”

A first-generation Chinese immigrant, Walee came to the United States at a young age and was raised in San Francisco, where he still lives with his wife, Betty, and their children, Kenneth and Olivia. “We’re a very classic American family,” he says. As busy as his work keeps him, Walee says family remains his top priority. “I try to take every opportunity I have to spend time with my kids. I even play racing video games with my son, though I’ll often slip in some educational points about the automotive industry.”

Following from his gratitude for the positive influences in his life, Walee says one of the things he enjoys most is sharing the gift with others. “I really enjoy working with people and seeing them develop and realize their potential. Every chance I get, I try to find ways to invest in my fellow teammates at the shop.” Walee’s penchant for empowering others also informs his thoughts about future retirement. “People have different definitions of retirement, and in my case, it doesn’t mean going off somewhere to relax and do nothing for the rest of my life,” he says. “Rather, I would invest more time into supporting the people in my life and being there to offer a helping hand.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1978 Ford Fairmont.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
A: I would like to drive a car that’s more comfortable than fancy, like a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston.

Q: What’s your favorite season and why?
A: Either spring or fall, because I like the temperature.

Q: Who do you think is the best James Bond?
A: Sean Connery, although Pierce Brosnan is a close second.

Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: It’s a three-way tie between The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and You Can Sell Anything by Gary Goodman.

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Maintaining Your Shocks

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SAN FRANCISCO — A car’s tires may be “where the rubber meets the road,” but another important aspect of a vehicle’s traction is its shocks. Unfortunately, unlike tires, shocks tend to be overlooked, which is why the first time you typically hear… Read more

How to Maintain Your Tires

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SAN FRANCISCO — Tires are a vital component of any vehicle, which is why keeping them properly maintained is so important. In addition to optimizing both fuel economy and the tires’ lifespan, properly maintained tires ensure maximum safety on the road.… Read more

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Video: Maintaining Your Shocks

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SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: Even though they’re commonly overlooked, shocks play a critical role in vehicle safety and performance, which is why proactive maintenance is a… Read more

Yann d’Argence is a 30-year veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of All Autos, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2003. He can be reached at (415) 493-8926 or by email.

Yann d'Argence

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Yann d’Argence: An Inquisitive Inspiration

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN ANSELMO — When asked what led him to a career in auto repair, Yann d’Argence says it all stemmed from a youthful curiosity…one that got him in trouble on occasion. “As a kid, I had an obsession with taking things apart and seeing how they worked,” he remembers. “As I got older, this became concentrated on the family car. One time, while I was messing with the engine, I accidentally dropped a washer down the carburetor and damaged the valve. My mom said, ‘You broke it, you fix it,’ so I ended up doing a valve job. At 15, I had no idea what I was doing—all I had was a manual. I was basically flying by the seat of my pants, but I got it done!”

Not long after, Yann got his first job working at an auto shop in his hometown of Mill Valley. Following high school, he earned his AA in Automotive Technology from College of Marin and landed a job at a large auto repair facility. Over the next 13 years, Yann would increase his skills not only on the service floor, but also at the front desk and in the office. “Working on cars came naturally to me, but the nuances of running a business did not,” he explains. “Working for that big shop gave me valuable experience with managing a business and working with customers, which came in handy when I opened my own facility years later.”

Today, 20 years after founding All Autos, Inc., Yann says his favorite part of his job is helping customers get back on the road. “It feels good to take care of a customer’s needs, especially when they’re under a lot of pressure. I have a really loyal customer base, so it’s very rewarding to be there for them when they need me.”

A lifetime resident of Marin County, Yann spends the bulk of his free time outdoors. “I’m an avid mountain biker, and I also enjoy water skiing, snow skiing and range shooting.” Additionally, Yann likes hanging out with his son, Max, who works as a technician at All Autos, and his daughter, Alexa, who works as an interior designer.

In regard to his professional career, Yann espouses the importance of providing solutions for his customers’ problems. “In addition to resolving issues in a timely and cost-effective manner, we aim to fix them correctly the first time,” he affirms. “If it’s not done right the first time, we bend over backward to get it right the second time. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting our customers back on the road and making them happy with our service.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Yann says he’d hit the road. “I’ve traveled in Europe a lot, but I haven’t seen that much of the United States. I’d love to rent an RV and drive across the country. I’d see it all: The Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the Teton Range—you name it.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A Fiat 128 sedan—the one I had to fix when I was 15.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: One of the new Teslas. They’re fast, they look great and they’re basically maintenance-free.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Crème brûlée.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Standing up for the underdog. I was pretty much full-grown by the time I was 15, so I would protect the geeks from the bullies in exchange for help with my homework. It got me through high school!

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: ’60s and ’70s rock.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past. I’d love to go back to the turn of the 20th century, when cars were first being built.

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Demystifying the “Check Engine” Light

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The “check engine” light may be the most commonly known dashboard warning light, but it’s also the most misunderstood, and for good reason: Not only can any number of issues cause it to come on, it can also signify anything… Read more

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Video: Understanding “Check Engine” Lights

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SAN ANSELMO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re unsure what the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard means, you should take some time to… Read more

Bo Posey is a lifetime veteran of the automotive industry and president of Metric Motors, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 206-7356 or by email.

Bo Posey

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Bo Posey: An Early Fascination

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SONOMA — Even from a young age, Bo Posey seemed destined for a career in the automotive industry. “My dad was a machinist and always did his own car maintenance, so I was introduced to automotive work early on,” he recounts. “I’ve always been fascinated by cars. Even before I started working on real ones, I was fixing remote-controlled cars for kids in my neighborhood.”

As soon as he was of age, Bo dove headfirst into a professional automotive career. “Right out of high school, I began working as a mechanic for a trucking company, maintaining and repairing big rigs. From there, I took a job at a Land Rover dealership in San Rafael, and over the next 16 years I worked in various capacities and establishments throughout the Bay Area, including a two-year stint at Mercedes-Benz.” Eventually, Bo decided it was time to go into business for himself, so he purchased Metric Motors in 2017.

Today, Bo says his favorite part of his job is the satisfaction he derives from taking care of his customers. “We primarily work on European and Asian vehicles, which gives vehicle owners in the Sonoma Valley an alternative to dealerships. It’s a good feeling to know we’re doing quality work and giving our customers a good value for their dollars.”

A resident of Sonoma (where he lives with his wife, Beth, and stepson, Spencer), Bo spends his time outside of work engaged in a variety of active pastimes. “I’m into motorsports—I like riding motorcycles and off-roading with quads. During the summers, our family spends a lot of time at Lake Berryessa, where we do a lot of off-roading and boating. Also, my stepson and I are really into sports, so we enjoy watching games together, and Beth and I attend his school sporting events.”

When asked about a personal philosophy, Bo cites the wisdom of the Golden Rule. “I try to treat people how I’d want to be treated,” he says. “That’s the way I was raised, and that’s the way I try to do things in both my personal life and my business. At the shop, that means being honest with customers, making them feel comfortable and explaining things in ways they can understand.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Bo says he’d take a vacation. “I could use a vacation—it’s been a while since I’ve had one. I’d probably go to Hawaii. My wife has been wanting to go, so I’d probably take her over there and spend some time relaxing.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?

A: The San Francisco Giants

Q: Coffee or tea?

A: Coffee.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

A: I’d go back to the ’60s or ’70s, just because they had way cooler cars back then.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

A: I usually end up in the garage, working on a car or cleaning up. I go a little stir crazy.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Beef jerky.

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Turbocharged Engines: What You Need to Know

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SONOMA — In recent years, more and more vehicle manufacturers are incorporating turbocharger technology into their engine designs. A turbocharger utilizes exhaust gas to pressurize the air inside the engine, which enables the engine to take in more fuel. With the smaller… Read more

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Video: Maintaining a Turbocharged Vehicle

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SONOMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your car has a turbocharged engine, it’s important to understand how this feature affects maintenance needs. Today we’re in Sonoma with Diamond… Read more

Ron McLeod is owner of ASAP Automotive, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2014. He can be reached at (510) 398-0718 or by email.

Ron McLeod

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Ron McLeod: Mechanical Aptitude

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

FREMONT — Ron McLeod first discovered his mechanical abilities while working on bicycles as a kid, and it wasn’t long before he took things to a whole other level. “When I was 10 years old, I started fixing the neighborhood kids’ bikes and building my own from scratch,” he remembers. “I also began helping my dad and older brother with their automotive projects. Working on cars just came easy to me—I can remember a few times when my dad had a problem he couldn’t figure out, and I went over and fixed it in two seconds. That would really tick him off!”

Following high school, Ron attended Arizona Automotive Institute before entering the workforce, where he quickly earned a reputation for excellence. “I ended up being the top mechanic at every place I worked, even when it was a chain with multiple stores,” he says. Despite his success, Ron wasn’t satisfied with working for someone else. “Even when I was 14 years old, my goal was to work for myself—it was just matter of finding the right time and place.” In 1994, he realized his lifelong dream and opened his own shop.

Today, as owner of ASAP Automotive, Inc., Ron says he has yet to lose any enthusiasm for his longtime career. “I still have a passion for working on cars, and I also enjoy interacting with my customers and making them happy with our work. I especially like it when we get the opportunity to work on hot rods.”

In keeping with his automotive passion, Ron’s involvement with cars extends beyond his work at the shop. “I’ve always been involved with drag racing, and I do it on occasion,” he says. “My youngest son, Kyle, and I go to Hollister and Pismo Beach fairly often to attend various car shows and drag races.” When he’s not out at the race track or a car show, Ron enjoys watching movies and keeping up with his three other grown children: Andy, Matt and Brittany.

In regard to his professional career, Ron says true success in business starts with the right motivation. “A lot of people go into business thinking they’re going to get rich, but I never went about it that way. For me, simply having the opportunity to make a living doing what I love is as good as it gets.”

When asked what his life would look like if he were to retire tomorrow, Ron says he’d continue to pursue his automotive passion. “I’d love to open a little shop somewhere and build hot rods. I would enjoy each one for a while before selling it and building another!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would you choose?
A: A Lamborghini.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Either relax and watch a movie or tinker on one of my project cars in the garage.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: I was the class clown—people used to call me McClown.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music. I mostly listen to classic rock.

Q: Who was the best James Bond?
A: Roger Moore.

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The Other Reason Oil Changes Are Important

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FREMONT — Most vehicle owners know (or are at least somewhat aware) that engine oil changes are important, but few understand the actual extent of their importance. Many people think it’s just something you’re supposed to do, but they don’t really know… Read more

The Importance of Cabin Filter Replacement

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FREMONT — Cabin filter replacement is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of vehicle maintenance. Designed to filter out elements like dust and pollen, a cabin air filter provides clean air for a vehicle’s driver and passengers. However, a… Read more

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Video: A Secondary Benefit of Oil Changes

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FREMONT — Host, Sarah Rutan: Oil changes are crucial for vehicle health, but few realize the secondary benefit this maintenance task provides. Today we’re in Fremont with Diamond… Read more

Chester Kniss is a lifetime veteran of the automotive industry and owner of Delta Transmission, a Diamond Certified company since 2007. He can be reached at (925) 709-4984 or by email.

Chester Kniss

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Chester Kniss: A Mechanical Mind

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ANTIOCH — When asked how he got involved in the auto repair field, Chester Kniss simply replies that he’s always been mechanically minded. “I’ve been interested in cars since I was a little boy, so I picked things up pretty naturally,” he says. “At 10 years old, I was able to accurately diagnose car problems, and by age 15, I’d built my first transmission.” After high school, Chester went directly into the automotive industry, where he started out working on diesel trucks. In 1994, he was hired at Delta Transmission, and 12 years later, he purchased the business from the owner.

Today, Chester says he still finds satisfaction in pursuing his lifelong livelihood. “I just enjoy working on cars. At this point, almost every aspect of my life involves cars, so I guess it’s become a part of who I am.”

A lifetime resident of the East Bay, Chester resides in Oakley with his wife, Beverly, and their two children. Outside of work, he engages in a variety of automotive-centered activities. “I’ve been dirt track racing competitively since 1994 and continue to do that today,” he says. “My wife grew up around racing, so we both love it, and now our son races as well.” When asked what he does to relax in between races, his response is hardly surprising: “Work on cars.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Chester espouses the importance of honesty. “Besides understanding how to do the job itself, the most important part of running a business is being honest with your customers,” he affirms. “When you’re honest and fair, customers will return, which is the lifeblood of any business—especially one like ours, where all the advertising is word-of-mouth.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chester says he’d head back to the track. “I’d probably go racing. Right now, all the top-notch guys in my racing class are at the Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, so I’d head up and watch that. Other than racing, I wouldn’t mind taking a trip to Hawaii.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1972 Dodge Charger.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: Pretty much any ’60s Ford or Dodge.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Cars and car parts.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: I like “The Fast and the Furious” series.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I’m up early and I go to bed late.

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Transmissions: To Flush or Not to Flush?

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ANTIOCH — Much like a “quick stop” oil change, a transmission flush provides a fast and affordable means of maintaining a vital vehicle component. However, upon closer inspection, this convenient service may not be as good an idea as it appears.… Read more

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Video: Rethinking Transmission Flushes

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ANTIOCH — Host, Sarah Rutan: A transmission flush is a popular service, but according to some automotive professionals, it may not be such a good idea. Today… Read more

Cliff Do is a 26-year veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of A1 Performance Auto Repair, a Diamond Certified company since 2004. He can be reached at (408) 827-8949 or by email.

Cliff Do

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Cliff Do: A Dynamic Development

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SUNNYVALE – Cliff Do’s career as an auto repair professional started small, but it developed gradually as he worked his way up from the basics to the big leagues. “I’ve loved auto repair since I was a kid,” he says. “As a teenager, I worked on motorcycles and scooter bikes, and from there I moved to diesel and gasoline engines. I was never satisfied doing just one thing; rather, I wanted to learn how to work on all types of cars, from domestic to European and Japanese. So, that’s what I did!” To increase his knowledge and achieve his occupational goals, Cliff attended Skyline College in San Bruno and earned his ASE Master Certification. In 2000, he established A1 Performance Auto Repair in Sunnyvale, where customers continue to benefit from his extensive automotive expertise.

Originally from Vietnam, Cliff came to the San Francisco area in 1990, where he still lives today with his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Stephen and Tristan. Cliff loves living and working in the Bay Area, not least because certain aspects of it remind him of his home country. “The weather here is similar to where I’m from,” he says. “There’s also a great community—a real melting pot. The people are very friendly and there are great schools and other community resources.”

As a business owner and family man, Cliff’s daily schedule is usually packed, but he says he doesn’t mind too much. “Most of my time is spent running my shop and being with my family, but since I love what I do and I love my family, that’s not such a bad thing.” When Cliff does get some free time, he likes to take advantage of the lush Bay Area surroundings by fishing in the bay and hiking along the San Francisco skyline.

Looking back on his life and career, Cliff cites hard work and determination as essential ingredients of his success. “In order to better yourself and accomplish your goals, you have to work hard,” he says. “Coming from a very poor family, I had to take things into my own hands and apply myself in order to get where I am today.” However, while Cliff’s resolute mentality was instrumental in achieving his accomplishments, he also acknowledges the shaping influence of the people in his life, which is why he says after retirement he’d like to give back to his community. “I would get involved with doing some volunteer work and just help people in need. I would also take care of any needs that my own family may have.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1978 Toyota Celica. I bought it for $300 and it lasted four years.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: I like kung fu movies.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being a leader. I’m good at running things, organizing people and counseling them.

Q: Q: If you could drive any car, what would you drive?
A: I like German cars, so any kind of BMW or Porsche would be nice.

Q: If you could live in the city or the country, which would you choose?
A: I don’t want to live in the city, but I like being near it, so if I could live in the country about 5 or 10 miles outside of the city, that would be ideal.

Q: What’s your favorite season and why?
A: Spring, because the weather is so fresh and clear and the flowers are in bloom.

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How to Tell if You Need New Brakes

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SUNNYVALE — Brakes are one of the most important components of any vehicle, which is why it’s vital to proactively maintain them. A crucial part of brake maintenance is being able to tell when they need to be replaced altogether. To… Read more

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Video: Caring for Your Brakes

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SUNNYVALE — Host, Sarah Rutan: Depending on the type of car you have, there are a couple of ways to tell when its time for new brakes. Today… Read more

Hans Art is a veteran of the auto repair industry and owner of Hans Art Automotive, a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (415) 938-6943 or by email.

Hans Art

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Hans Art: The Art of Automotive

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — When Hans Art started fixing cars as a young man, his intention was to earn an income while avoiding the rigors of conventional employment. Somewhat ironically, this led to a prolific career that he’s still involved in today. “I was a temporarily unemployed hippie and I wanted a job that came with a lot of free time, so I started fixing cars out of my garage,” he recounts. “After about seven years, I moved into an actual shop, where I got organized and set up my business. The company continued to grow over time, and 47 years later, I’m still at it.”

Today, as owner of Hans Art Automotive, Hans says his favorite part of his job is interacting with his customers and staff. “I have a great clientele, many of whom I’ve been serving for multiple decades. I also have great employees—they’re competent, interesting and a pleasure to work with.”

A lifetime resident of San Francisco, Hans expresses his appreciation for the city he calls home. “San Francisco is a lot different from what it was 40 years ago, in some ways for the better…the ’70s were completely insane. Overall, it’s a good city to live in, and a beautiful one at that—every day I’m amazed at how beautiful it is.”

Outside of work, Hans engages in a variety of active interests and pastimes. “I enjoy reading, especially anything to do with science and history,” he details. “I also regularly attend symphony and opera performances, and I enjoy riding my bicycle around the city.” Additionally, Hans likes spending time with his wife, Linda, his children, Katie and Claire, and extended family members throughout Northern California.

In regard to his career, Hans emphasizes the importance of customer care. “In some ways, being in auto repair is similar to being a nurse or caregiver—it just so happens that instead of caring for people, we’re caring for their cars,” he explains. “However, there’s a profound psychological element to it, because people are nervous about their cars and how much things are going to cost. That’s why half of what we do is putting customers at ease and maintaining relationships with them.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Hans gives a modest reply. “I don’t really have a bucket list—I’ve pretty much done everything I’ve wanted to do, so there are no unfulfilled wishes. Actually, my bucket list item would be to sit and read the Wall Street Journal cover to cover every morning. That doesn’t sound too exciting, but I love reading and never have quite as much time for it as I’d like.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I like both. I’m usually listening to either NPR or KDFC, the local classical music station.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Wikipedia.org.

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1941 Mercury.

Q: If you could drive any car, what would you choose?
A: I’d take anything that comes with a chauffeur.

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Calculating the Cost of Auto Maintenance

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SAN FRANCISCO — Upon receiving an unexpected bill to repair your car, it’s understandable if you have an emotional reaction. You might begin to wonder if it’s time to trade your old vehicle for something newer that needs less maintenance. However,… Read more

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Video: Calculating Auto Maintenance Cost

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SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If it seems like you’re paying too much to maintain your car, do some calculations—you might be surprised by what you… Read more

Paul Jancis is a 15-year veteran of the automotive industry and owner of Driven Auto Care, a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (650) 530-0933 or by email.

Paul Jancis

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Paul Jancis: Shifting Gears

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

MOUNTAIN VIEW — When asked how he got into the automotive field, Paul Jancis says it was anything but a gradual transition—more like an abrupt shifting of gears. “Basically, I had an early midlife crisis,” he explains. “I was in restaurant management and I wasn’t happy, so I did some soul searching and asked myself, ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ I’d always been mechanically inclined and had a strong interest in cars, so I figured automotive work might be a good option. I didn’t have any experience, but I knew it was something I’d enjoy, so I enrolled at the Sequoia Institute in Fremont and learned the trade.”

After spending the first few laps of his automotive career working for dealerships like Nissan, Paul made the move to found his own repair shop in 2007. Today, as owner of Driven Auto Care, he says his favorite part of his job is its variety. “When you’re working on cars, every day is different from the day before, so that keeps things interesting.”

A resident of Santa Clara County, Paul spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “I’m a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America,” he details. “I was a Scout when I was a kid and my kids were Scouts as well, so I’ve been involved my entire life.” A self-described foodie, Paul also enjoys cooking at home and sampling different restaurants around the Bay Area. Additionally, he likes spending quality time with his wife, Debbie, and their three adult children.

In his life and career, Paul espouses the importance of trustworthiness. “I’m all about living with integrity and building trust,” he affirms. “Trustworthiness is the first virtue listed in the Scout Law, and that’s because without trustworthiness, nothing else matters. The same goes with auto repair. It doesn’t matter what a shop’s rates are—if you can’t trust them, it won’t turn out well. So, I always emphasize trust with my customers and do my best to build that up over the long term.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Paul says he’d relocate to a tropical locale. “I’d sell everything, move to the U.S. Virgin Islands and buy a little house on the beach. This past summer, I took my Scout troop on a weeklong trip around the Virgin Islands, and I certainly wouldn’t mind living there permanently.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1972 Chevrolet Nova.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: A cat person—we have seven.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: The Eagles, with the Beatles being a close second.

Q: What do you like on your pizza?
A: Italian sausage and mushrooms.

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The Importance of Manufacturer-Recommended Maintenance

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MOUNTAIN VIEW — As vehicles get more expensive, it’s becoming more common for owners to keep their cars for longer periods of time. However, if you want your car to be reliable for the long term, you’ll need to be proactive about… Read more

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Video: Vehicle Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedule

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MOUNTAIN VIEW — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you want your vehicle to go the distance, you’ll need to pay attention to its manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule. Today we’re in… Read more

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