STAR Station

  • By Joel Snyder
  • 22 Sep, 2016
STAR stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive repair. STAR Test Only stations are only authorized to perform smog inspections. STAR Test & Repair stations  can perform both smog inspections and smog check repairs. Belmont Shell is a STAR Test & Repair   Station . Belmont Shell can perform a smog inspection and if your vehicle fails, they can help repair the vehicle to pass, if needed.

If your DMV renewal notice states your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a STAR station, you must take your vehicle to a STAR station for an inspection. Belmont Shell is located at:
2000 Ralston Ave.  & Alameda de las Pulgas
Belmont, CA 94002

You can call us at:  (650) 592-3637  to make an appointment.

Service Hours
Mon - Fri    8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday   8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday  Closed

By Joel Snyder 23 Dec, 2016

While it may seem like a mundane task, inflating tires is much more crucial to your car than you may think, and it results in a safer and more economical experience on the road. Your vehicle's handling also will be greatly improved as the larger a tire's inflated footprint, the more responsive and comfier the ride balance will be.

Before starting

To find your tires' proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information. The info is also found in the maintenance or car-care section of your vehicle’s owner's manual.

Don't refer to the sidewall markings on your tires, which in part specify the maximum tire pressure — not the recommended pressure.

Unless your tire is visibly flat, don't judge tire inflation just by looking at it; you have to use a tire pressure gauge to get the correct pounds per square inch reading. There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: digital, internal slide and dial. Prices range from $5 for a basic gauge to more than $30 for one that is digital, has an air-release button — or even talks. All will do the job, but you may want to consider the conditions in which you'll be using your gauge. "We've found that low-cost digital pressure gauges are very accurate and maintain the accuracy longer, but in extremely cold temperatures the gauge may not show up properly," said John Rastetter, Tire Rack's director of tire information services.  

Tips for checking and filling your tires

Tire manufacturers suggest checking tires when they're cold for the most accurate reading. Outside temperatures can cause tire pressure to vary by as much as 1 psi per 10 degrees; higher temperatures mean higher psi readings. "Tires are black; what does black do? Attract heat," Rastetter said, noting the importance of finding a shady place to check and fill all four tires.

Temperature plays a huge part in tire psi, Rastetter said, adding that the most crucial time of year to check pressure is in fall and winter when days are shorter and average temperatures plummet.

Check your tires in the morning before going anywhere, because as soon as you get behind the wheel for an extended amount of time, psi will rise. Rastetter said that if you've been on the road a long time and notice higher psi in your tires, don't let the air out, as the increase in pressure has built up due to the warm, constantly-in-motion tires

What to do

1. Pull your car onto a level surface in the shade.
2. Remove dust caps from the tires' valve stems.
3. Using your tire gauge, firmly press the tip of the gauge straight on to the tire's valve stem for a brief moment.
4. The tire gauge should provide a psi reading; if the number seems unrealistically low or high — for example, 85 psi or 1 psi – you will need to repeat the previous step, ensuring that the tire gauge's tip is properly making contact with the valve stem.
5. If the tire gauge's recorded reading is higher than the manufacturer-recommended rating, press the gauge tip on the valve stem until you hear air leak out. Check the tire pressure again.
6. If the reading is lower than recommended, fill the tire with air by firmly pressing the air-hose tip onto the valve stem. You will hear air quietly enter the tire. If you hear air leaking or spraying out, you need to double-check that the connection between the air hose and the tire’s valve stem is secure.
7. When you think you've added or let out enough air, check the pressure a few times with the gauge.
8. Replace the valve dust caps. Rastetter emphasized the importance of keeping dust caps on during winter driving because if water gets into the valve stem and freezes inside the tire, it could cause a flat.

    While you're at it, check your spare tire's pressure. You don't want to have a flat tire and then find out your replacement is flat, too.

    Make these steps part of your routine. It will benefit your vehicle and your wallet.

    You can always come to Belmont Shell to have one of our technicians check and fill your tires.

    Service Hours

    Mon - Fri   8:00 am   -   5:00 pm
    Saturday  8:00 am   -   2:00 pm
    Sunday     Closed

    2000 Ralston Ave. Belmont, CA 94002
    & Alameda de las Pulgas
    Phone: (650) 592-3637


    By Joel Snyder 09 Dec, 2016

    Your vehicle's battery is not very demanding, and most often only thought about when it fails. But just a small amount of care and maintenance will help ensure it doesn't let you down when you need it most.

    Lack of battery care and maintenance combined with cold weather has a way of bringing out the borderline batteries that were fine in the summer, but don't have the power for a cold weather start. And not just winter, battery care and maintenance is a year-round requirement. You want to catch a bad battery before it lets you down, usually on one of the coldest days of the year.

    Testing and maintaining a battery is fairly simple and only requires a few basic tools. If you only think about your battery once a year, fall would be a good time to go outside and spend some quality time with your battery.

    Important Safety Note: Before you do anything with a battery, you need to wear eye protection and keep any open flames away from the battery.

    This includes cigarettes and other smoking products. Batteries produce hydrogen gas that is extremely flammable. Batteries contain sulfuric acid so I would also recommend wearing latex gloves to keep battery acid from burning your hands.

    Testing The Battery

    1. Tools

    If you have a non-sealed battery, it is highly recommended that you use a good quality temperature compensating hydrometer. There are two basic types of hydrometers, the floating ball type and a gauge type. Personally, I prefer the gauge type. They are, I think, much easier to read and I don't have to stand there trying to decipher colored balls. Battery hydrometers can be purchased at an auto parts or battery store for less than $20.00.

    To test a sealed battery or to troubleshoot a charging or electrical system, you will need a digital voltmeter with 0.5% (or better) accuracy. A digital voltmeter can be purchased at an electronics store, such as Radio Shack, for less than $50.00. Analog (needle type) voltmeters are not accurate enough to measure the millivolt differences of a battery's State-of-Charge or measure the output of the charging system. A battery load tester is optional.

    2. Inspect The Battery

    Look for obvious problems such as a loose or broken alternator belt, low electrolyte levels, a dirty or wet battery top, corroded or swollen cables, corroded terminal mating surfaces or battery posts, loose hold-down clamps, loose cable terminals, or a leaking or damaged battery case. Repair or replace such items as required. Distilled water should be used to top off the battery fluid level.

    3. Recharge The Battery

    Recharge the battery to 100% State-of-Charge. If non-sealed battery has a .030 (sometimes expressed as 30 "points") or more difference in specific gravity reading between the lowest and highest cell, then you should equalize the battery using the battery manufacturer's procedures.

    4. Remove The Surface Charge

    The surface charge, if not removed, will make a weak battery appear good or a good battery appear bad. Eliminate the surface charge by allowing the battery to sit for between four to twelve hours in a warm room.

    5. Measure The State-Of-Charge

    To determine the battery's State-of-Charge with the battery's electrolyte temperature at 80° F (26.7° C), use the following table. The table assumes that a 1.265 specific gravity cell average and 12.65 VDC Open Circuit Voltage reading for a fully charged, wet, lead-acid battery.

    If the electrolyte temperature is not 80° F (26.7° C), use the Temperature Compensation table to adjust the Open Circuit Voltage or Specific Gravity readings.

    The Specific Gravity or Open Circuit Voltage readings for a battery at 100% State-of-Charge will vary by plate chemistry, so check the manufacturer's specifications for a fully charged battery.

    Temperature Compensation Table

    Open Circuit Voltage Approximate State-of-Charge at 80°F (26.7°C) Hydrometer Average Cell Specific Gravity Electrolyte Freeze Point
    12.65 100% 1.265 -77°F(-67°C)
    12.45 75% 1.225 -35°F(-37°C)
    12.24 50% 1.190 -10°F(-23°C)
    12.06 25% 1.155 15°F(-9°C)
    11.89 or less DISCHARGED 1.120 or less 20°F(-7°C)

    For non-sealed batteries, check the specific gravity in each cell with a hydrometer and average cells readings. For sealed batteries, measure the Open Circuit Voltage across the battery terminals with a digital voltmeter. This is the only way you can determine the State-of-Charge. Some batteries have a built-in "Magic Eye" hydrometer, which only measures the State-of-Charge in ONE of its six cells. If the built-in indicator is clear, light yellow, or red, then the battery has a low electrolyte level and if non-sealed, should be refilled and recharged before proceeding.

    If sealed, the battery is bad and should be replaced. If the State-of-Charge is BELOW 75% using either the specific gravity or voltage test or the built-in hydrometer indicates "bad" (usually dark or white), then the battery needs to be recharged BEFORE proceeding. You should replace the battery, if one or more of the following conditions occur:

    1. If there is a .050 (sometimes expressed as 50 "points") or more difference in the specific gravity reading between the highest and lowest cell, you have a weak or dead cell(s). Using the battery manufacturer's recommended procedure, applying an Equalizing charge may correct this condition.
    2. If the battery will not recharge to a 75% or more State-of-Charge level or if the built-in hydrometer still does not indicate "good" (usually green or blue, which indicates a 65% State-of-Charge or better).
    3. If a digital voltmeter indicates 0 volts, there is an open cell.
    4. If the digital voltmeter indicates 10.45 to 10.65 volts, there probably is a shorted cell. A shorted cell is caused by plates touching, sediment ("mud") build-up or "treeing" between the plates.

    6. Load Test The Battery

    If the battery's State-of-Charge is at 75% or higher or has a "good" built-in hydrometer indication, then you can load test a car battery by one of the following methods:

    1. With a battery load tester, apply a load equal to one-half of the CCA rating of the battery for 15 seconds. (Recommended method).
    2. With a battery load tester, apply a load equal to one-half the vehicle's CCA specification for 15 seconds.
    3. Disable the ignition and turn the engine over for 15 seconds with the starter motor.

    During the load test, the voltage on a good battery will NOT drop below the following table's indicated voltage for the electrolyte at the temperatures shown:

    Load Test

    Electrolyte Temperature °F Electrolyte Temperature °C Minimum Voltage Under LOAD
    100° 37.8° 9.9
    90° 32.2° 9.8
    80° 26.7° 9.7
    70° 21.1° 9.6
    60° 15.6° 9.5
    50° 10.0° 9.4
    40° 4.4° 9.3
    30° -1.1° 9.1
    20° -6.7° 8.9
    10° -12.2° 8.7
    -17.8° 8.5

    If the battery is fully charged or has a "good" built-in hydrometer indication, then you can test the capacity of a deep cycle battery by applying a known load and measuring the time it takes to discharge the battery until measures 10.5 volts. Normally a discharge rate that will discharge a battery in 20 hours can is used.

    For example, if you have an 80 ampere-hour rated battery, then an average load of four amps would discharge the battery in approximately 20 hours. Some new batteries can take up to 50 charge/discharge "preconditioning" cycles before they reach their rated capacity. Depending on your application, fully charged batteries with 80% or less of their original rated capacity available are considered to be bad.

    7. Bounce Back Test The Battery

    If the battery has passed the load test, please go to Tip #8, below. If not, remove the load, wait ten minutes, and measure the State-of-Charge. If the battery bounces back to less than 75% State-of-Charge (1.225 specific gravity or 12.45 VDC), then recharge the battery and load test again. If the battery fails the load test a second time or bounces back to less than 75% State-of-Charge, then replace the battery because it lacks the necessary CCA capacity.

    8. Recharge The Battery

    If the battery passes the load test, you should recharge it as soon as possible to prevent lead sulfation and to restore it to peak performance.

    You can always come visit Belmont Shell and we can help you solve your car problems.

    Service Hours

    Mon - Fri     8:00 am   -   5:00 pm
    Saturday    8:00 am   -   2:00 pm
    Sunday   Closed

    2000 Ralston Ave. Belmont, CA 94002
    & Alameda de las Pulgas
    Phone: (650) 592-3637


    By Joel Snyder 06 Dec, 2016

    If you turn your car key and get nothing, or get anything less than an engine roaring to life, you might be in for a bad day. Starting problems can be very frustrating because there are so many things under the hood that can keep a car from starting. Heck, pretty much everything under the hood can keep the car from starting.

    In order to troubleshoot a no-start problem, you need to start at the beginning of the line, the battery, and work your way back.

    Some tests for a no-start problem are simple, others are a pain in the neck and a technical nightmare. Nonetheless, you need to figure out why the car won't start, so we'll try to help. If your key won't turn in the ignition, try this fix.

    Electrical No-Start Problems

    • Check Your Fuses: Few cars have a fuse associated with the starting system, but before you go monkeying around with everything, check your fuses to be sure it's not that simple.

    • Battery Corrosion: Over time your battery connections can become dirty, or corroded. This corrosion breaks the connection your battery has with the rest of the car, and it won't start. Try cleaning your battery posts and try to start the car again.
    • Dead Battery: The most common reason your car won't start is a dead battery. If you have a battery tester that can measure cranking amps, test your battery to see if it's weak. If you can't test it yourself, you can test the battery indirectly by jump-starting the car. If it starts right away, your problem is most likely a dead battery. Replace the battery, and clean the battery connections to ensure good contact. 

    • Bad Ignition Switch: If your battery checks out, but the starter is still silent, it may be a faulty ignition switch. Turn the key to the on position (not all the way to start). If the red warning lights on your dash don't light up (and your battery connections are clean), the ignition switch is bad. If they do light up, turn the key to the start position. The dash warning lights should turn off at this key position (most cars). If you're not sure, turn on the headlights. When you try to start the car, the lights should either dim (a lot) or turn off completely. If they do, your ignition switch should be OK. If not, the switch will need replacement.
    • Bad Starter Connection: Corrosion can not only keep your battery from connecting, it can affect any electrical component, especially the ones exposed to the elements like the starter. If you have a helper, you can test the connection by holding a circuit tester lead on the wire that engages the starter. This is the smaller of the two wires connected to the starter.  Be sure no part of your body is near the moving parts of the engine - it could still start at any time! Have a friend turn the key and check the current. If you're getting current to the starter but it ain't spinning, it needs replacement.

      If your starter spins freely when you turn the key, the problem lies elsewhere. Now you begin to check the other systems that could keep it from firing up.

      With the starter-related causes of your no-start problem out of the way, we continue the search for why your car won't start. If the engine can't get spark, there will be no fire. But don't crawl into the hole just yet. Spark is created by your car's ignition system (ignition means "to ignite). Ignition system troubleshooting isn't too difficult when you're looking for a no-start problem. The first place to check is your coil.

      • Coil Testing: To properly test your ignition coil you'll need a multimeter that can measure impedance. If you don't have a multimeter, there is an easier test you can perform using simple hand tools. Test your coil and, if it's bad, replace it.

      • Distributor Cap:  Your no-start problem probably isn't caused by your distributor cap, but occasionally, especially during wet weather, a faulty cap can keep your car from starting. Remove your distributor cap and check the inside for moisture. If there is even a drop or mist of water inside, wipe it out with a clean, dry cloth. Inspect the cap for cracks and replace it if necessary. Once its dry, though, it'll work.
      • Coil Wire: The starting problem could also be due to a broken or shorting coil wire. Inspect the wire to see if there are any obvious cracks or splits, then test for continuity using a circuit tester.

      Did it start? No? OK, on to the fuel-related possibilities.

      If the starter is spinning and the sparks are flying, your no-start problem has got to be related to the fuel system. If your vehicle is fuel injected, there are a number of sub systems that could be the culprit. It will take some serious diagnostic work to figure it out, but there are some things you can check in the garage that will narrow it down, and could save you some money by avoiding a trip to the repair shop.

      Here are some things to check:

      • Electrical Connections: There are plenty of electrical connections in your fuel injection system. Each fuel injector has a connector on top. There are connections on the air side of the intake and on the cylinder heads. Basically you should check every electrical connection you can find under the hood to be sure it's tight. 

      • Fuel Pump and Relay: To check your fuel pump, you can do a fuel system pressure test - if you have the equipment. Since most of us don't have that type of thing, we'll first check the electrical connections. Test the positive side of the fuel pump for current with a circuit tester. Be sure the key is in the "On" position. If there's current, move on to the next step. If not, you should check the fuse. If the fuse is good, your problem is the fuel pump relay.

      • Fuel Filter:  If the fuel pump is working properly and fuel is still not reaching the engine, the problem could be a clogged fuel filter. You should be replacing your fuel filter every 12,000 miles or so anyway, so if you suspect it could be clogged, go ahead and replace it.

        The above items are things you can check yourself easily and with everyday automotive tools. There are many other elements of your fuel injection system that require electronic diagnosis. Unless you are familiar with this and have the right equipment, it is best to leave this to the pros at Belmont Shell.

        Service Hours

        Mon - Fri   8:00 am - 5:00 pm
        Saturday  8:00 am - 2:00 pm
        Sunday     Closed

        2000 Ralston Ave. Belmont, CA 94002
        & Alameda de las Pulgas

        Phone: (650) 592-3637


        By Joel Snyder 30 Sep, 2016
        Look at these key items before you take your car in for a smog test:

        Check Engine Light
        If the "Check Engine" light is on, that will ensure a failed smog test. The most common reason for Check Engine light on is a faulty oxygen sensor.

        Many states require a dynamometer, which positions the car's tires on rollers that allow the engine to run at high speeds while it is stationary. If the tires are not under inflated, the engine works harder to achieve the engine revolutions required by the test

        If you haven't performed an oil change within the last 5,000 miles, go ahead and do it before the emissions test. This will assist in getting passing emission test results. If the oil in your engine is contaminated due to inadequate oil changes it may very well cause your vehicle to fail the emissions test. Not performing regularly required oil and filter changes not only causes premature engine wear but can also cause your vehicle to not pass the emissions inspection.

        If your vehicle's battery has recently been disconnected due to it having needed replacement or battery charging, or if your vehicle recently needed a jump start, we recommend holding off on getting the smog check for at least one week while you drive your vehicle regularly. Chances are while your vehicle's computer lost power, its internal self test monitors were erased. Without these important and required emission monitors your vehicle can not pass the smog test. You will be required to drive between 100-200 miles and over the course of a week in order to reset or "complete" the emission monitors.

        You can come to Belmont Shell to get a smog test and have us check on these key items before.

        Belmont Shell is located at:
        2000 Ralston Ave. & Alameda de las Pulgas
        Belmont, CA 94002

        You can call us at: (650) 592-3637 to make an appointment.

        Service Hours
        Mon - Fri    8:00 am - 5:00 pm
        Saturday   8:00 am - 2:00 p

        By Joel Snyder 22 Sep, 2016
        STAR stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive repair. STAR Test Only stations are only authorized to perform smog inspections. STAR Test & Repair stations  can perform both smog inspections and smog check repairs. Belmont Shell is a STAR Test & Repair   Station . Belmont Shell can perform a smog inspection and if your vehicle fails, they can help repair the vehicle to pass, if needed.

        If your DMV renewal notice states your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a STAR station, you must take your vehicle to a STAR station for an inspection. Belmont Shell is located at:
        2000 Ralston Ave.  & Alameda de las Pulgas
        Belmont, CA 94002

        You can call us at:  (650) 592-3637  to make an appointment.

        Service Hours
        Mon - Fri    8:00 am - 5:00 pm
        Saturday   8:00 am - 2:00 pm
        Sunday  Closed

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