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OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

THEPRESS.NET

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3B

Brake Stop brings car trouble to a halt AMY CLAIRE

A

s new cars become unaffordable luxuries and gas prices soar, car owners pay

greater attention to keeping their older vehicles in repair. Carl Watkins, owner of Brake Stop Auto Services, aims to provide service “at dealer levels, without dealer costs.” Furnished with comfortable couches, beautiful fish tanks and a large TV, the waiting room at Brake Stop provides an enjoyable place to wait while repair jobs are completed. Watkins maintains the décor of his shop in order to make his customers feel comfortable. “What people perceive at the front door is how you’re going to treat their car,” he said. After learning the basics of auto repair from his father, who worked in a motor pool and helped friends and family with their own vehicles, Watkins began working in the auto industry. He appreciated the high-quality work but was distressed by how much car maintenance cost. “I’ve seen people sitting in dealerships crying because they didn’t have the money to fix it,” he remembered. He set out to correct this, eventually starting

Photo by Amy Claire

Assistant manager Rob Combs performs a 100,000-mile checkup on a customer’s car. his own company, One Stop Auto, which became a big success. He sold the business after undergoing back surgery, but opened Brake Stop in 2008 and continued to provide the level of service for which he was known. Brake Stop works on all makes and

models, and provides services from oil changes to engine replacements. “I like solving people’s problems,” Watkins said. “You name it; we do it.” Watkins continually educates himself to make sure his skills and tools stay up-to-date, and even

performs repairs on boats, jet skis and motorcycles. One of Watkins’s highest priorities is decreasing the amount of time a customer see Brake Stop page 4B


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THEPRESS.NET

OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

Vornhagen Body & Paint

“There is a big difference between shops. Any shop can give you a lower estimate by leaving something out or overlooking parts. Do not assume you get the quality of workmanship you want from the shop offering the lowest estimate.” - Vornhagen Body & Paint

Brake Stop owner Carl Watkins uses a scanner to diagnose a car’s checkengine light.

600 Harvest Park Dr. Brentwood (925) 516-1969 www.vornhagenbodypaint.com Open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm

Photo by Amy Claire

MEDA L LD AWARD

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2010 MEDA L LD AWARD

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2008

must wait. “Ninety-five percent of our service is same-day,” he said. For longer repair jobs, Brake Stop offers a shuttle service so that customers can run errands, plus loaner cars for multi-day jobs. One recent customer came to Watkins when a piece of wood broke through his front bumper on the freeway and damaged the radiator, air conditioning and other systems. “We solved it all in one shot,” Watkins said proudly. While he strives to offer competitive pricing, he recognizes that customers sometimes can’t afford to repair everything. For such situations, he prioritizes the repairs by how necessary they are to the car’s ability to function. Watkins encourages people to practice

preventive maintenance such as regular oil changes and tune-ups, and to fix problems, such as squealing brakes, as soon as possible. “The rule of thumb is that the louder it is, the more it costs,” he said. His customers appreciate his work; some travel from several towns away for a simple oil change. “They trust us,” Watkins said, attributing his popularity to his honesty in his work. “I have phenomenal repeat business.” Brake Stop, located at 560 Valdry Court, Suite B-6 in Brentwood, is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays by appointment only. Call 925-634-3001 or visit www.brakestopautoservices.com. Franchise opportunities are available. To comment, visit www.thepress.net.

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Brake Stop from page 3B

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9010 Brentwood Blvd. Ste G. (next to the Police Station)

925.513.7581 www.platinumtint.net


OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

THEPRESS.NET

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5B

Valuable service for vintage vehicles AMY CLAIRE

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arry Clark was bitten by the automotive bug at a young age. “I’ve always been into

cars. I bought my first one when I was 14.” Clark repaired his 1947 Ford Coupe himself, working in his father’s barn.

Mechanic Doug Okazaki works on the valves of a 1934 Ford Cabriolet.

From that point on, he made a hobby of buying old cars, repairing them and selling them again.

Photo by Amy Claire

secondary dealers. If he can’t find one, he makes it himself. “Most auto repair shops don’t want anything to do with old cars because they take too long,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of research. I spend a lot of hours chasing stuff down.”

Customers also bring in vintage cars to get newer systems installed, such as power steering, air conditioning and seat belts. One recent customer got an automatic transmission installed in his 1951 Packard because he was no longer able to reach the clutch.

Clark enjoys the variety of his work. “Every day you come to work, you could be doing anything from an engine replacement to a brake alignment.” see Vintage page 6B

MEDA L LD AWARD

2010

GO

After working at several dealerships and moving his way up through the ranks, Clark’s wife suggested he open his own repair shop. “She said, ‘Why don’t you hang a shingle?’ So I did!” In 2006 he opened Vintage Transmission and Gear as a specialty repair shop for antique cars. “They’re a unique experience,” he said. “They smell different. They drive different.” Clark performs every type of service, from restorations to modernizations, and works on both American and foreign cars. Frequently, Clark finds that a part he needs to complete a restoration is no longer manufactured. In such cases, he uses his professional network to locate parts from


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OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

RY WE CAR

SNOWS CHAIN

*

Vintage Transmissions owner Larry Clark sits in the driver’s seat of his 1947 Ford.

FREE WIPERS with the purchase of any 4 tires *with this ad. Cannot combine offers. Expires 12/31/11.

634-4344

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2010 L

8040 Brentwood Blvd.

Voted One of the Best 9 Years in a Row!

TIRES • WHEELS • BRAKES SHOCKS • STRUTS • ALIGNMENT Photo by Amy Claire

Vintage from page 5B As Clark’s business grew, his customers began asking him to service their newer cars as well. “People who have early cars also have late models,” he said. He now works on modern vehicles in addition to vintage ones, though his shop is still usually full of classic cars. He also worked on a semi-professional dirt track racing pit crew as the repairman for motors and transmissions. Comprising more than 500 parts, a transmission is “probably the most complicated thing in your car,” Clark said. When Clark talks about his work, his obvious love for vintage vehicles shines

through. He enjoys the sensory experience – the feel, the smell and the sound – of driving an older car. He also enjoys the enthusiasm of other drivers when he takes one of his own older cars on the road. “As you drive them, people wave.” Vintage Transmission and Gear, located at 560 Valdry Court, Suite B-7 in Brentwood, is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays by appointment only. Call 925-513-4095, e-mail vintagetrans@aol.com or visit www. vintagetransmissionandgear.com. To comment, visit www.thepress.net.

“Family Owned And Operated Since 1996”

Foreign & Domestic

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205 Oak St. Brentwood (Corner of 2nd & Oak)

Brentwood Chamber of Commerce 2010 Business of the Year

516-0417

www.kendallautomotivebrentwood.com

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• Air Conditioning • Brake Service • Fuel Injection Service • Shocks & Struts • General Maintenance • Tune-ups • Manufacture Recommended Service 30,60,90,000 mile

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MEDA L LD AWARD


OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

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7B

EAST BAY SMOG

Hot rod heaven

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Mon-Sat 8-6, Sun by Appt

ot rodders wound up four days of fun cruising the San Francisco Bay Area’s automotive hot spots with a visit to Brentwood last month. There they checked out East Bay Muscle Cars. A precursor to The Goodguys’ 25th West Coast Nationals, the tour included a look at owner Steve Keefer’s 1970 Mustang and several other projects. More than 200 cars came by, some of which are seen above.

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BRENTWOOD

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Most vehicles. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Expires 11/18/11

TRANSMISSION FLUSH WITH FREE WASH

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Most vehicles. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Expires 11/18/11

FULL SERVICE WASH

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1199

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Offer not valid with any other discounts. Oversized vehicles are extra. Expires 11/18/11

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SUPER WASH

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1199

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Reg. $17.99 • Full Service Wash • Clear Coat Protectant • Under-Carriage Wash • Wheel Treatment • Air Freshener Offer not valid with any other discounts. Oversized vehicles are extra. Expires 11/18/11

Reg. $17.99 • Full Service Wash • Clear Coat Protectant • Under-Carriage Wash • Wheel Treatment • Air Freshener Offer not valid with any other discounts. Oversized vehicles are extra. Expires 11/18/11

Reg. $17.99 • Full Service Wash • Clear Coat Protectant • Under-Carriage Wash • Wheel Treatment • Air Freshener Offer not valid with any other discounts. Oversized vehicles are extra. Expires 11/18/11

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1399

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$

1499

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• Full Service Wash • Foam Polish Wax • Tire Dressing • Clear Coat Protectant • Under-Carriage Wash • Wheel Treatment • Air Freshener Offer not valid with any other offer discounts. Oversized vehicles are extra. Expires 11/18/11


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THEPRESS.NET

OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

Photo courtesy of ARA Content

A recent poll showed drivers were more interested in tech gadgets such as the GPS device, above, than in technology that makes their car safer to drive.

Gadgets more popular than car safety features

W

hether you’re planning a short trip to the store or a long ride

across the country, getting behind the wheel is the easy part. Staying

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safe while driving, on the other hand, takes more work. However, when it comes to investing in technology that’s designed to make the driving experience safer, Americans admit they favor increased convenience over driver and passenger safety, accord-

ing to a MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll. “The most recognized and soughtafter technology features tend to be those that promote style over substance, when in reality, it’s the less glamorous features like electronic stability control that make for safer vehicles,” said Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home. “By increasing their understanding of the available safety features in today’s vehicles, consumers can make more informed choices about which cars provide the best safeguards to help see Gadgets page 9B

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OCTOBER 28, 2011

AUTO CARE GUIDE

Gadgets from page 8B

convenience features such as GPS (63 percent) over safety features such as electronic stability control (45 percent). Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that electronic stability control significantly decreases the likelihood of a single-vehicle crash by up to 59 percent and provides a 23-percent reduction in the probability of fatal crashes. Starting this year, electronic stability control is a standard feature on all new passenger cars in the U.S. Although safety technology can help make America’s roadways safer, the fact remains: no amount of technology can replace the safety benefit of an experienced driver behind the wheel. “Auto manufacturers have made significant strides with regard to safety innovations over the past 10 years, but the ultimate safety feature is an alert and prepared driver,” said Moore. “Technology advancements have greatly improved the comfort and safety of cars, but over-reliance on these features can be dangerous. Drivers need to remember that it’s still up to them to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner.” To learn more about new auto technologies and how to make a positive difference in your driving, consider the informational tips offered at www. metlife.com. – Courtesy of ARA Content

protect themselves and their families on the road.” When asked about their familiarity with safety-oriented automobile features – some of which have been available for several years – survey respondents gave low marks: ♦ Less than half of respondents were very or somewhat familiar with electronic stability control, one of the most significant safety advancements in recent years, which helps improve steering and prevent rollover accidents. Almost onethird had never heard of it at all. ♦ Forty-four percent of respondents were very or somewhat familiar with brake assist, which applies additional brake force in the event of a sudden stop. ♦ Forty-three percent were very or somewhat familiar with forward collision warning, which alerts the driver when sensors detect an imminent front-end impact. ♦ Only 28 percent were very or somewhat familiar with the lane-departure warning feature, which warns drivers when they drift out of the designated lane on a highway. Forty-one percent of respondents had never even heard of the feature. In contrast, Americans gave much higher marks for convenience features such as GPS (90 percent) and bluetooth accessories (77 percent). And when asked which features they wanted in their next car, more people opted for

THEPRESS.NET

by Joan Grimes, Esq. Clients come into my office every week saying that they are in a debt settlement plan, BUT are now being sued by a creditor or they have received a 1099c income statement from a creditor that was included in the debt settlement plan. How can this be? First, just because you are in a debt settlement plan, it does not mean that a creditor cannot sue you on account. It happens every day. In some cases, the lawsuit is because a debt could not be included in the settlement because a creditor would not agree. In other cases, the reason for the lawsuit was that the creditor was not receiving payments from the debt settlement plan in an amount that would satisfy the creditor. Second, just because you are in a debt settlement plan, it does not mean that the creditor will not issue you a 1099c for that portion of the debt which is forgiven. In fact, the IRS REQUIRES creditors to issue a 1099c to individuals where more than $600 in debt is forgiven. Therefore, if you settle with a VISA for $5,000 on a $50,000 bill, you will receive a $45,000 1099c which will be considered income to you and will be taxed at your current tax rate. Third, just because you are in a debt settlement/consolidation plan, it does not mean that your credit will not affected or that creditors will stop calling you. Creditors can still contact you for the collection of debts they are owed unless or until you file bankruptcy. Also, a debt settlement program will impact your credit in the future and have long-term side effects because you will have late payments and even when you settle, your credit report will not show that the account was paid in full. Debt settlement plans are alternatives to bankruptcy. If you do not qualify for

bankruptcy, then you will have no choice but to proceed with the settlement or consolidation plan. However, most people DO qualify for bankruptcy and in fact, most qualify for a Chapter 7 which requires NO payments back to creditors. Even, if you do not qualify for a Chapter 7, the payments in Chapter 13 will in almost every instance be significantly lower than what you are paying to the debt settlement or consolidation company. Better yet, there will be no 1099c received after the bankruptcy because Bankruptcy is one of the exceptions to the debt forgiveness rule. In conclusion, these are very tough times. You are not alone. If you are having trouble paying your bills as they come due, I recommend you seek legal counsel before you enter into a debt settlement or consolidation plan. Know all of your options and then you will be able to make the best decision for you and your family. I see people for a FREE 30 minute consultation at my offices locate in Walnut Creek, Antioch and Brentwood. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT PROVIDED AS LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING ANY DECISION REGARDING A VOLUNTARY DEFAULT, SHORT SALE, FORECLOSURE OR BANKRUPTCY. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR OBTAINING TAX & LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING AN INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. GRIMESBKLAW.COM (925) 323-7772 © 2011 Joan Grimes

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925.513.4095 Larry Clark

560 Valdry Ct., Unit B7, Brentwood • vintagetrans1@aol.com

We Love to Work on Street Rods and Classics!

9B

Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy

WE’LL GET YOU

SHIFTING AGAIN!

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8085 Brentwood Blvd. • 634-9900

Across the street from Bill Brandt Ford Quick Lane is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company

LIFE

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QUICK LANE.®


Auto Care Guide Fall 2011