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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 11, 2017

Advanced Tire & Auto Center stays Ahead of the Curve on High-Tech Vehicles

The average auto-repair garage these days is a bit like a hospital that lacks the ability to do CAT scans or MRIs, says veteran technician Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto Center, located at 146 Highway 35 North in Aberdeen. “Whether a garage is able to successfully service and repair today’s advanced vehicles has a lot to do with the level of access those technicians have to sophisticated, manufacturer-specific diagnostic technology,” explains the Holmdel native. “The thing to understand is that very few independent garages, or even national franchise operators, actually buy the expensive factory equipment that you need to do the job right.”

Advanced, by contrast, stays ahead of the curve by employing the latest factory diagnostic tools and software. The New Jersey State Licensed Repair and Inspection Facility is one the state’s few independent repair facilities offering dealer-level service for virtually all makes and models, according to Janet. Those services include everything from transmission maintenance, to cooling systems, hybrid engine and advanced computer diagnostics, oil changes, batteries, shocks and struts, factory-scheduled maintenance, and more. In addition, Advanced offers tire sales and service, fleet vehicle services, wheel alignment, and state inspections. Like dealer shops, customers can also avail themselves of free loaner cars.

“Using our factory diagnostic tools, our technicians can access fault codes, freeze-frame data, sensor inputs, and various self-tests, which eliminates the need to take a vehicle back to the dealer to determine the cause of a problem,” explains Jason Bigelow, who grew up in Bayonne and started the business in 1995 at the age of 22. “Few independent repair facilities own even one factory diagnostic tool. We have a total of 21.”

In operating the business together, the husband-and-wife team also puts a heavy emphasis on continuing education and training. The four technicians at Advanced are all Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified, as well as Certified Emission Repair Technicians (ERTS) through the New Jersey DEP, and State Inspection certified. Additionally, the team’s certifications include MACS (mobile air conditioning society) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Diesel Technologies. “All told, you’re talking about 94 years of combined experience on our team,” Jason says.

Fair treatment is also fundamental to the business, he adds. Some garages that use outdated equipment, he notes, are more than happy to make several “tries” before fixing your car right. “Unfortunately, some shops see the return visits that come from such incorrect diagnoses as ‘opportunities’ to charge you for yet another attempted repair,” he said. “Our equipment helps us get to the bottom of the problem from the outset.”

Advanced has also shunned the commonly used flat-rate system, which compensates technicians based on a percentage of sales. “The flat rate system favors business owners and forces good technicians to make bad decisions,” Jason states. “Our technicians can focus on your car, and not on your wallet.”

The shop’s custom-designed, 4,500-square-foot building on Route 35 is also worthy of the Advanced name. Its high-tech features include roof-mounted solar panels and a diesel generator, with a clean and comfortable waiting area for customers. In 2016, Advanced began offering the free loaner cars.

Back in the 1990s, Jason started the business in direct response to technical advances in the auto industry; namely, the rapid introduction of modern electronics and computers, which required a new model for auto-repair technicians who wanted to do things right. “Cars were evolving into advanced machines relying heavily on logic and the interpretation of data,” he explains. “The average car now has nearly 40 computers. It’s more like an Apple laptop than you might think.”

Now, the Bigelows are closely following the industry’s next evolutionary leaps, especially driverless and connected cars. “It’s so interesting to know that companies like Google have already logged millions of miles on public roads, with humans only rarely taking control,” notes Jason, who has penned articles and appeared on TV shows on the subject. “Some of these technologies, like collision-avoidance systems, are already on the road today. It’s simply a fact that those who buy a new car in the years ahead will be taking part in the autonomous-vehicle revolution. We can’t wait to explore the opportunities this will create, but we’re also excited just because we love the cool technology.”

Advanced Tire & Auto is located at 146 Highway 35 North, Aberdeen, NJ 07735. Call (732) 290-7300 or visit www.atacnj.com.