Tips for Road Tripping This Thanksgiving


There is nothing like the feeling of being with family and friends during Thanksgiving.  Getting together after being apart for a long time is truly a joyous occasion.  Traveling during a holiday can often times be stressful.   The below tips will help to make sure you are prepared for your road trip and can enjoy this special time of year.

Prep Your Car

Before you hit the road for any long trip, you want to make sure your vehicle is in good working condition.  You will also want to make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated and that the jack and tools you may need are there if you have a flat tire on the vehicle.  Check to make sure your windshield wiper blades are properly functioning so that if you encounter rain, you will be able to drive safely.  We offer our Cruising with Confidence 53 Vehicle Inspection that will cover all this and more.  You should also have your oil changed (unless you have done so recently), top off all your fluids, and rotate your tires so you’re road-ready.  Checking your cabin air filter should also be done to make sure the air in your car is clean.  If your family is blessed with little ones you will also want to make sure your car seats are properly installed.  If you are not sure how to install a car seat, come by the shop and we will be happy to check that for you. 

Leave Early to Beat Traffic 

Traffic will be heaviest the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the entire weekend after.  If you can, try to leave earlier in the week and return after the weekend to beat the travel rush.  If that is not possible, leaving early in the morning is the next best thing.  Map your route and research alternate routes in case of accidents and road closures.  Make sure to check the weather forecast before you leave, especially if you will be traveling in a mountain region.  Weather in the mountains can be very unpredictable, you should be prepared for any inclement weather including chains.  If your trip will be a long one, plan your stops before you leave so you know when and where you will be stopping along the way. 

Pack Snacks

Make your trip a little easier by packing some snacks that are easy to eat in the car such as trail mix, small fruit, crackers, protein bars and cut veggies. Staying hydrated while you’re on the road is important as well.  Make sure you pack plenty of water. 

Pack Your Entertainment

Start prepping your entertainment for when your plans are finalized. Whether you’re spending 20 minutes or 20 hours in the car, you can still have a good time with it if you have the right entertainment. Fill a bag with your favorite games and books and update your music playlist with your favorite tunes. If you forget your entertainment at home, or don’t have room in your car for an extra bag you can always enjoy a good old-fashioned game of I Spy, the License Plate Game, or Name the Artist to pass the time.

Emergency Kit

If your vehicle doesn’t have an emergency kit, now is the time to purchase one for your vehicle. A good emergency kit has blankets, road flares, a basic first aid kit, bottles of water, a flashlight, batteries and some non-perishable items. Make sure your vehicle is stocked with the necessities that may come in handy during an emergency. It’s not always fun to plan for the unexpected, but if something does happen, you’ll be happy you were prepared.

Don’t Forget to Move

Long hours behind the wheel can take its toll on your body, especially if you don’t take time to stop and stretch periodically. It can be tempting to make good time and drive straight to your destination, but try to refrain. If you remembered to plan your route to include stops, make sure you take frequent breaks to move about and keep blood circulating, which can keep you awake and focused.  If you are traveling with pets they will need to get out and stretch or relieve themselves too.   Familiarize yourself with rest stops that have pet areas on your route.

Ways to Increase Your Gas Mileage

With the price of gas soaring, it is important to make every gallon of gas last as long as possible.  Here are some tips to help you stretch your gas dollar.

1. Drive Smart

Speeding, braking, and rapid acceleration waste gas so does driving above 50 miles per hour.  Driving sensibly and not like a race car driver can significantly decrease the amount of fuel that you use.

2. Check the Tires

Tires can lose about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) per month on average.  When the temperature drops outside the air pressure in your tires will drop with it.   Each tire that is under inflated by 10 psi reduces fuel economy by about 3.3%. Four tires that are under inflated by 10 psi, then, would reduce a vehicle's fuel economy by a substantial 10%.   Tires that are not aligned properly create drag instead of rolling freely. This can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10%.  In addition, the tires will wear out more quickly.  Tires that are out of balance can also cause tire wear which will result in lower gas mileage as well.  Tires should be balanced and rotated according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

3. Maintain your Fuel System 

Fill Your Tank Early in the Morning or Late at Night

Fuel is dispensed by volume. If you fill your tank when it is coolest outside—early in the morning or late at night and avoid the heat of the day—the fuel will be denser. As a result, you will get more gas for the same amount of money.  

Replace your Air Filter

Your engine sucks in 14 million gallons of air through the filter every year. On older vehicles (pre-1999) a dirty air filter increases fuel usage by almost 10 percent ($350 per year, or 35¢ per gallon). On newer vehicles, the computer is smart enough to detect the lower airflow, and it cuts back on fuel. So your engine will lack power and pick-up. Check the filter when you change your oil and replace it at least once a year, or more if you drive in dirty, dusty conditions.

Clean your Fuel System

Over time debris and carbon can build up in your fuel injection system and clog or restrict fuel distribution. If you notice a rough feel when the vehicle is idling, decreased gas mileage, or poor performance it may be a sign that your injectors need to be cleaned.

We are happy to check your vehicle to make sure that you are getting the best mileage possible.  Schedule your appointment today to start saving at the pump as soon as possible!

October is National Car Care Month

October is National Car Care Month

As Fall approaches and the promise of winter nears it is important to make sure that your vehicle is ready to carry you safely to your holiday destinations.  A few simple checks beforehand can ensure your safe travels.

Heating, Wipers & Lights

Test your heater, defroster and windshield wipers to make sure they work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

Check to see that all exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.  One way to tell if headlights are correctly aimed is to park the vehicle on a level surface and shine the headlights on a garage door or wall 25 feet ahead (some cars may require a different distance). The top of the low beam shining on the wall should be at or slightly below the height of the center of the headlight lens for most vehicles. You should expect the light pattern to be higher on the right side (passenger side) to illuminate road signs and lower on the driver’s side to prevent blinding other drivers. This should give you a good idea of whether the beams on both sides are aimed correctly.  Another method is to pull the vehicle within 5 feet of the wall and then use masking tape to mark the vertical and horizontal centers of the light beams on the wall. Move the vehicle back 25 feet. With the aid of the tape line, the light beams should be roughly the same height vertically and horizontally.


Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure of all tires, including the spare. Put a penny in your tire tread grooves with the top of Abe’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, that tire is spent and needs to be replaced. Honestly.  During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.  Tire inflation levels are measured in psi (pounds per square inch). Because air pressure can decrease up to 10 psi a month just through every day driving and may potentially drop 1 psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature drop, it’s important to ready your ride.  When tire tread is reduced or your tire pressure is not correct, your vehicle is at greater risk of hydroplaning.  If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads.

Wheel Alignment

The most common signs of misalignment are pulling to one side while you're driving, unusual tire wear and/or a steering wheel that's off-center even though your vehicle is pointed straight.  Even the slightest misalignment from hitting potholes and normal wear and tear can lead to premature tire wear – even if your car’s alignment is off by 100th of a degree or inch. When this happens, it can lead to further misalignment and the need to replace your tires sooner than you hoped.


Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.  Bad sounds can be signs that your brakes need work. When you push down the brake pedal, do you hear screeching, grinding, rubbing or squealing? These sounds may mean your brake pads need work or your rotors need replacing.  Another sign something is wrong- when you step on the brake pedal and the car doesn’t stop!  Don’t let it get to that point!!!

Gas, Oil & Filters

Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold weather to prevent moisture from forming in gas lines and possibly freezing.

Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter.  The “W” in your type of oil stands for “winter.” And the number before the “W” (i.e. SAE 5W30) lets you know how easily this oil will pump at low temperatures. 0W is for very low temperatures, and higher numbers like 10W are designed for milder winter weather. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate.

Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

System Checks – Charging, Cooling & Exhaust

Have the battery and charging system checked, as cold weather is hard on batteries.

Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.

Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.

Pack the Essentials

Your vehicle should always have an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, nonperishable food and a first aid kit with any needed medication.

Wildfires pollute your car’s Engine and Cabin Air Filters

With all the recent wildfires in our area, your car’s cabin air filter and engine air filter should be inspected to ensure they are providing maximum protection from smoke and debris.

The cabin air filter cleans the air coming into the passenger compartment.  The cabin air filter typically  traps pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, compromising interior air quality and damaging the system. The filter also prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system, which could also cause problems.  Heavy airborne contaminants, such as soot, smoke and debris from wildfires can pollute cabin air filters quickly compromising the integrity of the air in the passenger compartment.

The engine air filter traps dirt particles, soot and ash, which can cause costly engine damage. They also play a critical role in keeping smoke and debris from contaminating the airflow sensor on fuel-injected cars.  With all the particulate matter in the air due to the wildfires, your engine air filter may not be doing its job.

You can bring your vehicle by our shop for a complimentary cabin and engine air filter inspection to make sure you and your vehicle are breathing safe air.

Protect Your Hybrid from Catalytic Converter Theft

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As highlighted in our Hybrid blog post, Paul’s Automotive specializes in hybrid and electric vehicles too,  complete with specialized hybrid performance checks and services. One aspect of hybrid maintenance  that is getting increased attention is the catalytic converter (cat) theft.

How do you know if someone stole your cat? The sound of a hybrid vehicle with a stolen cat is  unmistakable: the modest Prius will roar and rattle like a diesel truck. Unfortunately, theft is on the rise.  At Paul’s we used to see a hybrid with a stolen cat about once a month, now we see them about once a  week. The cat contains the precious metals of palladium, platinum, and rhodium. These metals are sold  as scrap for hundreds to thousands of dollars and hybrid cats contain higher amounts of these metals.  Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, buying and installing a new catalytic converter could  cost anywhere between $2,500-$5,000. If you park your hybrid regularly on the Midtown or Downtown  streets, we HIGHLY recommend you check with your insurance company to see if your coverage includes  stolen catalytic converters. If not, we recommend adding the extra coverage.

The good news is that there is something you can do to help protect your hybrid catalytic converter  from theft. Paul’s offers different catalytic converter protection devices to prevent catalytic converter  theft, including installation of protection cages, bars, and plates. These devices deter thieves because  they are challenging to cut, even with power tools. Check with your insurance carrier too as they may  pay for this service! If you are interested in learning more, please talk to us. Let Paul’s Automotive help  protect your hybrid from catalytic converter theft!

COVID-19 Driving to Summer Driving

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Driving during the COVID-19 lockdown sounds like an oxymoron. Many of us barely used a tank of gas over the last three months! As restrictions ease and we enjoy the summer, many of us are now hitting the road more frequently and for longer distances. What effects does basically going form a cold start to driving have on your car? How to ensure our cars are up to the task as we start driving more?

1) You STILL need that oil change! I have received countless messages from customers saying: “let’s hold off on that oil change, I haven’t been driving.” So, why would you still need an oil change? One word: CONDENSATION. I have a personal story on the matter. My car only had 1000 miles since its last oil change; barely put 200 miles on it since the lockdown. Yet, the oil was completely black when I checked it. Why? Due to lack of use, time, and weather, moisture had built up in the fluid. Driving the car regularly usually burns water off. Keeping your car parked means moisture builds up. This goes for all fluids, and not just oil. Why is this bad? Just like old motor oil, oil with too much moisture can cause engine damage and a host of other issues. So, when in doubt, check the dipstick or bring it down to the shop and we can take a quick look!

2) Drive, even if you have nowhere to go: If you are still working from home or otherwise not leaving the house much, we encourage you to take your car out for a spin around your neighborhood and on the freeway at least once a week. This will ensure that the fluids flow through the hoses, car parts stay lubricated, moisture burns off, the battery stays charged, and tire wear does not become uneven. Moreover, as you drive your car, you will notice if anything feels off; so when you are ready to drive more miles, you will notice if something is not right, and can address it ASAP. Nothing would be worse than not driving for months, you are finally ready for that day trip, and you find a flat tire or dead battery!

3) Be aware of our Midtowner Service: We wrote a blog about low-mileage driving, since being in Midtown means many of our customers live, work, and socialize all within a two-mile radius, and rarely drive. As discussed in our blog, “The Urban Life,” various things can happen to your car over time if you do not drive often, including: oil and other fluids break down due to condensation build-up, tires lose air and pressure, tires develop flat spots, separate, and crack, windshield wipers crack, hoses and belts crack, and battery charge is affected. Before you start driving more, we highly recommend that you have your vehicle checked over, to make sure it is in good condition. We offer the Midtowner Service and Trip Inspections to give you peace of mind that your car is ready to hit the road. Call us for more information and what is involved in each service.

We have enough stress in life right now without adding car troubles to the list of stresses. If you are concerned, have questions about anything, or would like to make an appointment, we are here for you!

Paul’s Specializes in Hybrids Too!

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If you drive a hybrid, you likely relish how your vehicle rarely needs gas, needs relatively little maintenance, and reduces the pollution in your neighborhood. These are indeed all things to be proud of! Paul’s Automotive recognizes how hybrids are a special kind of vehicle, so we provide your hybrid with a special kind of service!

First, it is true that compared to a conventional vehicle, your hybrid does not need as much maintenance. For example, due to a hybrid’s regenerative braking system, brakes and brake pads last longer. This does NOT mean hybrids require NO maintenance. Your beloved hybrid needs some TLC in return in order to give you that high mileage performance and long life that you love about your hybrid. Here are some items that need special attention:

  • Antifreeze/Coolant: Changing out your hybrid’s coolant/antifreeze is especially important because antifreeze can break down. With all the electronics on the vehicle, the antifreeze can become an electrical current and cause corrosion and hydrolysis on engine components.
  • Transmission fluid check: Hybrids do not allow you to flush out the transmission fluid, and there is no filter. We can only do a drain and fill, meaning there is still about 60% of old transmission fluid still running through the system. To keep your transmission working well, your transmission fluid should be drained and filled with clean fluid every 30,000 miles.
  • Modules and hybrid battery: Hybrids have a lot of advanced computer technology going on. It is important to scan the system when you service your car to make sure everything is running as it should and there are no trouble codes or red flags in the electronic or battery system.
  • Tires: Keep an eye on your tire pressure. Because the hybrid battery is so heavy, tires often deflate more quickly than a gasoline vehicle. It can also mean uneven wear and tear on your tires, so it is a good idea to rotate your tires when you have an oil change.
  • Fuel system cleaning: Poor fuel efficiency, loss of power, and slow response time may mean it’s time for a fuel system cleaning. At Paul’s, we stock BG Product’s Hybrid Performance Kit as part of this fuel system cleaning. The process keeps variable valve timing composites free from debris, removes deposits from valves and combustion chambers, and improves spark plug life. All of which ensure's a high MPG, keeps your hybrid running better, longer, and reduces emissions even more.
  • Catalytic Converters: First the bad news—thefts are on the rise. This car part contains a precious metal called palladium and is sold as scrap for around $450. Buying and installing a new catalytic converter could cost around $2,500. The good news is there is something you can do.Protection cages surround the catalytic converter with a wire cable that is very difficult to cut, even with power tools. Large, round metal bars can also be welded to the catalytic converter to prevent thefts. If you are interested in learning more, please talk to us.

And of course, whether you have gas, hybrid, electric, or anything in between, you will eventually need
new wiper blades, headlights, struts, shocks, cabin air filters, and other basic mechanic components that
make for a smooth, safe, and comfortable ride.

When you come to Paul’s we will do a Hybrid Vehicle Performance Check on your vehicle to make sure everything is running as it should be. We also offer a Hybrid Performance Service, which includes inspecting and addressing many of the critical components listed above and will help you get even better gas mileage! Let Paul’s be your shop for all your hybrid’s needs!


Hybrid Service



Winter is coming!

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Winter Primer for your Vehicle

It is chilly out there! Rain is falling in the Valley; snow up in the Sierras. At Paul’s, we see a spike in certain jobs when the temperature drops, namely dead batteries and concerns about vehicle safety on the wet roads. Here are some items I recommend checking out or finally getting replaced during the winter:

1.) Batteries: Cold weather is hard on your car battery. A car battery can lose 30 to 50 percent of its power when the temperature drops below the freezing point and more than half its power when the temperature drops below zero.

When it is cold, engines are harder to turn over because the oil inside them has thickened, which demands more current from a battery. Also, the chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at lower temperatures.

There are two easy things you can do to check if your battery may be on its way out:

  • Visually inspect your battery for corrosion, cracks, or other damage. These batteries need to be more thoroughly checked and/or replaced immediately.
  • Test your battery if it is three years old or older. Our techs can measure the amps and voltage, giving you the peace of mind knowing that your battery is still good, should be replaced soon, or if you need a new one.

At Paul’s, we proudly use AC Delco batteries, which are known for their excellent performance, long life, and a 30-month free replacement warranty.

2.) Struts: Symptoms of worn struts include bottoming out, excessive bouncing, rocking back and forth, drifting or nose-diving while braking, swaying, and cupping wear on the tires.

This may be an inconvenience or make for an uncomfortable ride during the dry months, but with the wet, slick roads of winter, these issues become a safety concern. They can cause your car to spin out, not come to a hard brake as quickly, and reduce the traction of your tires.

3.) Tires: Even if you do not plan on visiting the snow, wet and flooded roads can be a safety concern if your tires’ tread is worn. A worn tire has very little traction, meaning it does not grip the road as well when you brake. This can be especially dangerous on a wet road. As mentioned above, bad struts cause tires to be worn unevenly, causing your tires to become worn out more quickly, costing you more.

Tire inflation is another important consideration. Air contracts when it gets colder, which may make your tires look flatter. Tire inflation levels are measured in pounds per square inch (psi). Air pressure can potentially drop 1 psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature drop. Improper tire inflation can hurt gas mileage and cause incorrect wear and tear on your tires, thus shortening the life of your tires. In addition, if your car has a tire pressure monitoring system, it can affect the anti-lock braking system on your vehicle.

At Paul’s we check and adjust your tire pressure for free!

I hope this blog taught you something new about your car. We are here for you to make you feel safer and more comfortable in your vehicle over the winter! And Happy Holidays!

Is an Oil Change REALLY “Just” an Oil Change?

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We have it engrained in our brains and entrenched in our habits that regular oil changes are the one piece of automotive maintenance that is important and that it should be really, really cheap. A whole industry has even sprouted over providing The All-Important Oil Change; think Jiffy Lube®, Speedee Oil Change™, etc. We see signs everywhere offering “$30 oil change!” “Oil Changes: Only $19.99!”

That’s great, I am a proponent of maintenance! However, an oil change is not just an oil change. It is not just a matter of screw off filter, drain oil, install new filter, add new oil, and wam bam, 20 minutes you’re out the door. Well, it might be like that at some other shops…

At Paul’s we know that an oil change is as important as getting your brakes fixed or your coolant flushed, and we give it the same level of expertise and attention to detail.

We use the regular oil change as the perfect opportunity to check the safety of your vehicle. So, when you come to Paul’s for your oil change, or as we like to call it our “5,000 Mile Service,” know that you are not just getting an oil change. You are getting a complete mileage service by a skilled and trained technician with years of experience, high quality Castrol oil, a tire rotation, brake inspection, and a complete safety inspection.

And why does this make a difference?

I have seen many, many times customers go somewhere for a $19.99 oil change and end up in our shop a few days to a month later. Over the years we have found that, bargain oil change shops are not always looking out for the best interest of the vehicle or the customer. This is what may happen with a cheap oil change performed by an inexperienced technician:

  • Adding wrong oil and/or the wrong sized filter. This can create oil leaks, burning oil, reduced vehicle mileage, and engine damage. The oil filter is what keeps the oil clean and needs to be swapped out with every oil change. Installing the wrong size filter is also a common mistake. Just because it threads on, doesn’t mean it’s the right size. If it isn’t the right size, it might leak oil or not be able to filter oil properly as it cycles through; both of which put your engine at risk.
  • Adding not enough oil or too much oil. Too little oil messes with the hydraulic pressure and lubrication of the parts inside the vehicle. This can cause the internal components of the engine to experience too much friction, and potentially damage itself. Overfilling your oil can cause the engine oil to foam up inside and reduce the hydraulic pressure. It can even put extra pressure on the pressure-crank case system which causes the engine seals and gaskets to leak.
  • Adding low quality oil. This is one way bargain stores can charge so little for oil changes. Moving parts wear down over time at varying rates; low quality oil tends to increase the rate of degradation. High quality oil enables the lowest amount of degradation to the parts and thus extend their lives. This can make a big difference on critical components in a car, such as the engine and transmission, which will save money on repairs in the long run. High quality oil also leads to greater fuel efficiency, thus increasing the mileage of your car.
  • Overtightening the filter or drain nut. Overtightening the filter or drain nut can can tear the threads out of the oil pan which usually means replacing the oil pan at the cost of about $600.
  • Not tightening the filter enough. This leads to the oil filter leaking and the engine losing oil.
  • Not Changing Out the Oil Filter O-Ring. The O-ring needs to be changed along with the oil filter. When you buy an oil filter, it also comes with a new O-ring that goes on top of the filter to provide a seal. This O-ring wears-out and breaks relatively quickly, which is why it needs to be changed out with the filter cartridge regularly. If not replaced at the time of the oil change, the original O-ring will blow-out and break the seal upon starting the engine, then cause a leak/the engine to stall. 

So, know that a great deal is involved in an oil change and we have the expertise and quality oil to make sure you get the most out of this routine maintenance. Oil changes are like anything else: you get what you pay for; and at Paul’s Automotive, you get the best!



April is for Cabin Air Filter Awareness!

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Dirty Cabin FilterClean Cabin filter

It is not an official designation, but we are proclaiming April as Cabin Air Filter Awareness Month! Spring has sprung and after a long, wet winter, temperatures are warming up and we are getting out and planning weekend trips. This means there are large doses of pollen in the air and you are probably starting to run your car’s A/C system. How does your car prevent all that pollen from circulating throughout the cabin? The cabin air filter! Not to mention, think of everything in the air that your car has experienced over the past few months: large amount ash and soot from the wildfires last year, dust, mold spores, and other pollutants and fine particles. The cabin air filter’s job is to keep the air inside of your car’s cabin clean so you can breathe clean air as you drive. This can be especially important if you suffer from allergies, asthma, or lung, heart, or respiratory ailments. The filters can also catch rodent droppings, leaves, and other unwanted debris.

Besides improving air quality, replacing the cabin air filter may prevent an expensive repair. When the air filter is dirty, the A/C will work harder, causing strain on the A/C system and the motor. It is good to replace the air filter every 6,000 to 10,000 miles. You will probably be on the lower end if you park outside and under trees that drop a large amount of pollen.

You may have heard the criticism that auto shops like to push cabin air filters to customers. Well, we can’t speak for other shops, but at Paul’s Automotive, if we recommend a new cabin air filter, we take a picture of the dirty one and send the photo to you, as part of our complimentary Safety Courtesy Check.

You wouldn’t go years without changing the air filter in your house. Why do that to your car? To find out the condition of your cabin air filter and to schedule an appointment, go to: https://paulsautomotiverepair.comappointments or call us at 916-444-7216. Happy clean air breathing!


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