Doing an Inspection

The Vehicle Safety Inspection

Doing a vehicle safety inspection is critical for road safety. It can save you from having an expensive break down, and hopefully prevent you being stranded on the side of the road. There are numerous different things to check, but they can be checked fairly quickly. We put together a checklist for you to make doing the inspection systematic for you, and to keep you on task. 

The check list is broken into sections, and each section has parts that are all related to each other. This will also allow you to do things in pieces if you want. You can do one whole section at a time, even across different days if you know that other parts in other sections are good. 

Our experts on staff can’t do an inspection for you, but we can answer questions you have. We recommend checking out 2 Car Pros by clicking here to learn more about how to actually do the inspection. On their site you can research each section of the inspection to learn more about it and how to identify issues.

A Stew’s Garage Summer

A Fresh Stew's Garage Shirt!

It’s been many many years since we have had a new style of shirt. What better way than to immortalize Rick’s legendary van with it’s own Stew’s Self Service Garage t-shirt. Notably, these will not be working shirts, they are premium tri-blend shirts. They are awesome for wearing any time, you might just not want to get them dirty is all. If you want one, be sure to act fast as these are going to be a limited time offering. They will be available for pre-order for 2 weeks (8/24/2020), and after that we will send them off for printing. If you don’t order during pre-order they will not be available again after that. 

The detail level of this shirt is what really stands out. You have the duct taped window, perfectly recreated in silhouette. There is also the front shade on the windshield, the roof rack, and the all important Stew’s Self Service Garage decal. Click here to buy yours now before they are all gone.

When it Rains Suspension, it Pours Suspension

July was full of suspension jobs! Something that is interesting is that similar jobs always come in waves. For the entire month of July it seemed everyone was either putting lift kits on, or coil overs to go lower. By far it was the most popular job we saw through the month. Typically we’ll see a lot of the same job types over a few week period. For example we’ll see a bunch of clutch jobs all over the period of a few weeks. Or we’ll see lots of fluid changes, or exhaust jobs. While people do all sorts of different jobs here, there is always one job type that is more prevalent over the month than any others. We sometimes wonder why that is, since everyone drives different, and has their cars serviced at different intervals. Some how, some way they all seem to find a common time to do a common job though! Just a fun observation.

This RV is LARGE and in Charge

This is by far the biggest vehicle we’ve had at Stew’s Self Service Garage. This RV measured in at just over 24ft, and just under 14,000lbs. They were on a road trip out here in the Seattle area and needed to fix their power steering pump before driving back across the country. We don’t blame them, having to manually steer this beast would be one hell of a work out! Fortunately they were able to find us on the ol’ google machine and were able to talk with us and confirm that it would fit before coming in. After we knew it was going to just fit, we said come on in and Be Your Own Mechanic! They were able to get the new pump in, and get back on the road home.

A Fond Customer Farewell

This turbo Silverado has been coming to our garage for a couple years now. It’s owned by a soon to be retired from the US Navy sailor. He will be heading back home once he is officially out of the Navy. He brought it in recently once last time to make sure it was road trip ready. The US military brings all sorts of awesome individuals and families to our area, and we love to be able to see them and their vehicles here at our garage. We also provide all active and former military members with a 15% discount on all services as a token of our appreciation. We appreciate the Navy bringing him to the Seattle area, and we wish him well on his next journey out of the Navy!

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Return Of The Blog

A Grand Return!

Stew’s Self Service Garage returned to business May 18th after a 2 month closure. The good news was we were extremely prepared for a shut down, though we had planned on it never happening. We had multiple months of expenses in the bank just in case we would ever need it. We were excited to re-open our garage doors to everyone and let people get back to working on their cars. Since we’ve opened we have stayed fairly busy, and have been happy to see a lot of you come in to work on your car! While we were closed we even found time to make some improvements, and catch up on maintenance.

Upgraded Tool Room!

We took advantage of the time while we were closed to make some updates to our tool room. We completely reorganized it to streamline getting tools out to you. We brought in an additional tool box for even more storage as we continue to add more and more tools. The biggest change is that now every tool has a set location, which means no more “well it was here last time” while we try and get a tool to you. There are some more additions and updates we plan on making to the tool room, but we are far more organized now!

In addition to the tool room, we made some improvements elsewhere to the shop. We repainted all of the bay stripes, and added additional centering stripes for the lifts. This makes it easier to tell where your bay ends, and the next begins to do your best at social distancing. The centering stripes should make it easier to guide you into the bay to be lined up with the lifts! 

Staying Sanitized

We also have a COVID safety plan to do our absolute best to keep everyone as safe as possible while in our garage. We are sanitizing most surfaces in the bay after each person leaves with an EPA registered disinfectant. This includes the workbench, lift controls, and other commonly touched surfaces in the bay. We are also wiping down our credit card terminal and waiver tablet between uses. Surfaces not as regularly used are also being wiped down hourly with a sanitizing wipe or sprayed with a disinfecting spray. The state, county, and city have laid out regulations as to what the minimum requirements are, but we want to take it a step further as our commitment to your safety. If you are curious about learning more about our COVID plan you can click here and read more about it.

My Personal Exciting News

During the COVID shutdown I got engaged to my girlfriend, Ally. We’ve been together since our senior year of high school, which has been over 8 and a half years. She’s stuck with me through thick and thin while getting Stew’s Self Service Garage off the ground, and I couldn’t be happier to be getting married to her. It was a bit hectic at the start nailing down a venue and a few other vendors right away. Our wedding is planned for next summer, but we had to compete with a lot of people because of the COVID reschedules. We were fortunate to schedule a venue, and all of our vendors for next summer before reschedules made our first choices unavailable. Now we are through the craziness of wedding planning, and on to the fun stuff. Next July we’ll be celebrating, and I’m looking forward to it!

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The Snowpocalypse is finally over

We had fun filming a new ad!

It had been awhile since we did a video ad, so we decided to do another one. Steve and I were talking about what would be a funny video, and he mentioned the Forest Gump scene where Bubba lists off all the shrimp. We decided if we changed it to hammers, not only would it be fitting, it would probably be pretty funny. So off I went on writing up the script for this video. We got Seth, aka The Talent, to come in on a Wednesday and do some filming. 

This video took about 4 hours to film, even though it’s only 1 minute in length. Each “scene” took multiple practices, and then around 30-40 takes each to get it right. Naturally anytime we are doing anything humorous, there’s a lot of laughing going on. After you get a good take, you still need 2 or 3 more just to make sure you have a perfect one. Needless to say, I have a lot of bloopers that I should probably edit together. After the video is shot, then the longer part begins.

They say in editing for every minute filmed is an hour of editing. There is certainly some truth to this, I spent probably 15 hours or more editing it all together. First step is watching all the clips and finding the best take. After that you need to cut them down so they are timed up perfectly. With the rough edit all together, then comes all the effects afterwards. You have color correcting, anti-flicker, any sort of zooming or panning to add. Of course then you have transitions and audio correction too. With all of that added up then you can do all the titles at the end! Fortunately the titles are the easy part, they take no time at all to do. After it’s all edited, then you have the finished video, which you can view above!

Snowpocalypse came and went

Pictured above is our lot after it was plowed by a private plowing company. At the time that this picture was taken, we had about 8″ of snow on the ground in Kirkland. With the snow effecting the roads, we had no choice but to be closed for quite a few days. This is tough because that doesn’t pay the bills. Fortunately we were able to get back open after the roads were plowed, and get back to being available for everyone. After the great snowpocalypse we had a big spike of people coming in. Fortunately only a couple people were in because of snow damage. Hopefully we are done with snow for the next few years!

And now a for a PSA regarding unsafe vehicles

Ever seen a brake rotor look like this? If you have, and it was on your vehicle, you were being extremely unsafe on the roadway! Obviously brakes are a very important component on the car, but there are certainly other systems you need to be mindful of. It’s very important that your suspension is in good operating condition, as well as the steering, and wheel bearings on the vehicle. Over the winter we’ve seen quite a few cars come in that have been neglected in those areas, and they could have caused a crash. These problems can be avoided by doing regular maintenance, and doing regular checks.

One of the best ways to regularly inspect your car is to do it when you do an oil change. Since you should be changing your oil roughly every 3-5 thousand miles, or every few months. Regular inspections are a great way to make sure nothing ever looks like that brake rotor pictured above. They are machines, they take maintenance and care to keep them running right. So be sure to keep your cars in good operating condition, we don’t need more unsafe cars out there!

UW Husky Basketball Has Been on Fire

It’s certainly been an exciting year to be a UW fan. With the football team playing in the Rose Bowl and the basketball team leading the Pac-12 it’s been fantastic to follow. And with the baseball team coming off of a college world series, I’ve had a lot to cheer about. But basketball is the flavor of the month, and with a good Pac-12 tournament showing they should be in March Madness. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, hopefully they can win out and have a nice 1st seed in the tourny. 

New Year – New Stuff!

Starting the Year with a New Lift!

The new BendPak 4-post in bay 1 may look like the old one but if your wide-body barely squeezed on the old one then you’ll immediately notice the difference. We upgraded the drive on lift in bay 1 to a wider model with 10″ of additional clearance between the posts. Now we have the perfect drive on lift for those low cars that are also wide. Otherwise the lift’s operation and features are the same as you’ve become comfortable with. The old lift ended up going with the lift installers to hopefully live on in another shop.

New Drink Fridge, Extra Cold!

Back by popular demand, we are once again selling drinks! After our vending machine died, we stopped for awhile, trying to find a vending solution that was simple, reliable, and fit the space we had available. That turned out to be a big commercial-grade glass door fridge  instead of a vending machine. This fridge keeps drinks nice and cold at just above freezing, which will be perfect once summer comes around. You can either pay cash or put it on the bill to pay at the end. So much easier than a vending machine. 

We’ll also be able to provide more drink options so be sure to let us know what you’d like! (Mention you saw this post and get a free water) No alcoholic beverages though, our insurance frowns upon consuming alcohol and operating heavy machinery.


Big Rolling Jacks for the Big Lift

Have a big vehicle, that’s tall, very long, heavy, and need to get the wheels off? No problem! We added rolling jacks to our big drive on 4-post lift, allowing you to be able to do just that. It does involve a few more steps than using the 2-post, but bay 7’s lift is sturdier and can handle 4,000 lbs more than the 2-post lifts. It also isn’t limited by a top bar, meaning you can take the vehicle up a lot higher so you can stand under it. Many customers choose to go this route for their large vehicles as it is easy to use and very safe. You can do suspension work, brakes, wheel swaps, or whatever you would like with the wheels off.

Edgar Makes The Hall Of Fame

Take the time to watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet. I was a big baseball fan growing up – my room was painted Mariners blue, even the carpet was Mariners blue. Edgar Martinez was my idol and easily my favorite Mariner growing up. I’m a little too young to remember Griffey being a Mariner, so Edgar is who really stuck out to me. I have a huge sticker of him on the wall, his bobble head’s on my shelf, a home run ball from him, and a home run ball from his number retirement weekend. I wore the number 11 on my uniforms through little league, always wanting to be like him. A true legendary right handed hitter, it’s finally come time for him to join the other Hall of Famers in Cooperstown, NY. In late July I’ll make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of baseball to see my childhood idol get inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

It took 10 years for him to get the call, needing to receive 75% or more of the vote from the Baseball Writers of America. Many didn’t want to vote for him as they deemed him a partial player. Since Edgar was a designated hitter, they felt by not playing defense, he wasn’t worthy of being inducted. They chose to ignore his pure superiority as a right handed hitter throughout his 18 year career. He was the one who hit “The Double”, arguably the most important play in Mariners history. This lead to the public support to build a new stadium to replace the Kingdome, and in turn keep the Mariners in Seattle. Sometimes Safeco (now T-Mobile field) is referred to ‘the house that Griffey built”, well it was Edgar who brought that run in. So it’s only fitting that he now joins Griffey Jr., the man who scored the winning run on that hit in the Hall of Fame. 

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Bay 1

Bay 1 is a 4-post lift (drive on style). Perfect for fluid changes or other quick tasks that do not require you to remove the wheels.


Bays 2-6

Bays 2-6 are 2-post lifts (lifts from jack points). These allow you to remove the wheels and do nearly any mechanical job.

class b motorhome on bendpak HD-14 4 post lift at stew's self service garage

Bay 7

Bay 7 is a heavy duty 4-post lift (drive on style) with a 14,000 lb capacity. This bay is perfect for large vehicles that don't need the wheels off.

‘Tis the Season

November has breezed past; now we're really into the Holidays

Cool Things? How About a Ferrari!

This Ferrari 488 was in to replace their exhaust to make it a little louder. They also wanted the new sound that an X-pipe provides. We always like when people work on cars that people say they can’t work on. This owner wasn’t afraid to jump right in and get after it. The exhaust even came with step-by-step instructions that show you exactly what to do, and even told you which tools were needed for it. That gave the owner complete confidence that they could do it themselves and save thousands over taking it to a shop that handles Ferraris. Changing exhaust on a mid engine car is a little different than your standard car in that you don’t have it completely under the car. Most of it is essentially right in the middle, which makes it slightly more challenging as you have to work around other components. After taking the wheel liners out and the intake pipes, getting at the exhaust wasn’t bad at all. With the new X-pipe in the owner is much happier with the new sound. It sounds more exotic as well as has quite a bit more turbo sound. 

Going To Be Traveling? Here's An Inspection Checklist

We are asked frequently about what to check on a car before going on a road trip. We decided to put together a check list to help you when you are getting ready. This list also includes most of the items to check on your car regardless of a road trip. We put the full size document on this page so you can save it if you would like. Otherwise we can always email you a PDF copy to print at home ahead of time. We also have copies on hand in case you don’t bring one with you. 

Of course, if you have any questions about how to check any of the items on this form we are happy to help. If you are working on your car here at Stew’s Self Service Garage all you have to do is ask one of us! 

How do you use this I can hear you ask. The green, yellow, and red boxes indicate the status of each component you are checking. Green means everything is good for that item. Check yellow if you aren’t sure, things may not look right with the component, or it will need deeper diagnosis other than a brief inspection. Naturally red means the component needs immediate replacement. Most sections have space for you to make notes, otherwise write your notes in the comment. It is also very important to note the vehicle mileage and date of the inspection so you can check back with your inspection form on any items that didn’t check the green box.


Give (or Get) The Gift Of Stew's Self Service Garage

Not sure what you want for the holiday season? Ask for something from Stew’s! We have shirts, hoodies, and select purchase ahead punch cards. This is the only time of year we offer these punch cards, so time is limited! The punch cards allow you to purchase time ahead of time and take advantage of deals with us. The 2 hour punch card comes with a free oil change special, and the 6 hour punch card allows you to buy our 6 hour special, but use it in 15 minute increments. Normally you have to use our 6 hour special in a single consecutive use. The 6 hour punch card lets you buy 6 hours for the price of 5.

We also have some great shirts and sweatshirts to keep your style on point! Our shirts are black to hide dirt and keep you looking fresh. The grey distressed logo is also a nice flair that will keep the shirt timeless in design. Our sweatshirts are just like our t-shirts, but will keep you warmer. We went with a heavier duty sweatshirt to stick to our high quality standards. These sweatshirts are durable as well – these are the same hoodies our employees wear so you know they’ve seen some action. T-shirts and hoodies are available in numerous sizes up to and above XXL. Not sure what size you need? Stop by and we can let you try some on.

Ready to put something on your list? Here’s a link to the store page so you can pick exactly which item you want.


The Huskies Are In The Rose Bowl

Sorry Coug fans, but with a win in the Apple Cup and the Pac-12 championship game the Dawgs are back in the Rose Bowl. Another fun fact, the Huskies have as many Rose Bowl games as WSU has total bowl games. I promise I’m done gloating now. I have to give props to the WSU band for playing Bow Down to Washington. After a UW Husky band charter bus crashed, the UW band wasn’t able to make it. WSU stepped up and played the UW fight song in their place. If you’ve been keeping up with the blog you’ll know I’m a UW fan. Though it’s been a ‘disappointing’ season for UW not making it to the college football playoffs (by losing 3 games and not having a signature win), I’m happy with how it ended. Making it to the Rose Bowl is never a disappointment. It’s a great way to finish off a season, and any team should be happy to be there. While I’m not sure if I’ll be there yet, I’ve been thinking about going. It’s the first time since 2001 for UW, and facing Ohio State should make for a great game. A high ranking defense against one of the best offenses in the game. Reminds me of a certain super bowl the Seahawks played in against the Broncos. Let’s hope it goes the same way for the Dawgs!

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September and October – A COMBO POST

Twice the Months for Twice the Update!

Alright, so I was late a month. I’ll make up for it though, and combine them both into one awesome post! September and October were great months, and we certainly saw a lot of cool stuff! We had some awesome classic Porsches, a Fisker, our final workstation showed up (yes, we ordered 7 but only 6 showed up), baseball season ended, Husky football season started (and some might argue ended), and I enjoyed all of it! 

Double the months, double the Porsche

You may be surprised to hear I’m not a huge Porsche fan. I even say it poor-shhh, which means I can hear you screaming at me from here. I’ll even take it a little further and say they are just squished VW Beetles, but I can respect some of these models. From the wide body models, to the crazy turbo flat 6 engines, some of them are very cool. Both of these came in over September and October for some end of the summer attention. One was for an overall inspection while the other was getting short shifter upgrades. 

Fisker Karma Battery Pack

Karma? That's the name!

I’m not sure if you have good karma by owning a Karma, but it probably can’t hurt. The Fisker Karma is a luxury hybrid electric car, designed by the famous Henrik Fisker. It’s a hybrid because it uses a GM turbo 4 cylinder as a generator for range extension by charging the battery. The gas engine isn’t hooked up to the wheels though, so if the battery dies, you have to rely on the engine as a generator to charge the battery. So what was up with this one? There was an individual cell within the battery pack that had gone out, so that cell needed to be replaced. The battery pack is made up of a bunch of 24v car batteries strung together, which was an interesting sight to see. The person working on the car was a certified Fisker tech, so this was not an amateur job, and we would not suggest trying it on your own. These batteries mean business, and if you touch the wrong parts you may not live to tell the story. 

Getting to see one of these up close was very cool though! They have a lot of interesting little quirks and design features. For example, they have side dump exhaust! Instead of running the exhaust for the generator down the entire car, they dump just in front of the front doors. The car also has speakers in front and back that make noise when the car is in drive that is mostly just obnoxious. I guess Henrik thought that’s what the future would sound like 6 years ago. 

Bay 7 is complete!

No longer does this bay have the ‘old setup’ as we called it. Now with the fully fledged new workstation we are happy to say it is complete. The upgrade sadly took another 6 months due to an error in production, which is why it was left with the old setup while all the other bays had the new ones. I’m certainly happy to have this project done, now we can move onto phase 2 of the new workstations. Identify what to put into the 5th drawer, as well as improving upon our foam layouts. We’ve been testing different tools, and working on a labeling system to make tools even easier to find and put back. Your feedback has been awesome, and we have been listening. Keep telling us what you want to see different with them, we are still perfecting them!

What's up with the crazy cut?

As you should know, I’m a huge Mariners fan. This season Mariners closer Edwin Diaz, aka Electric Eddie, reached 50 saves, which meant he won a bet with the manager. That bet was the manager would have to get Diaz’s signature cut. The Mariners then spun it into a promo night, which I of course took part in. You purchased a ticket which got you a shirt, and a hair cut (if you wanted). I am not one to shy away from goofy promos, so I was all over this. So I may have gotten some funny looks for a week or so, but it was worth it. 

The Mariners season still ended with disappointment though as it usually does. No playoffs, Diaz didn’t break the saves record, and less promise for next year. October came and I got to watch some awesome playoff baseball, as well as 2 game 163s. I was happy to see the Astros eliminated by the Red Sox, mainly because I don’t like division rivals. I rooted for the Brewers to be the Dodgers (Yankees West), but they just couldn’t get it together in game 7 of the NLCS. The Braves burst onto the NL scene, perhaps a season too early. That is a team to watch out for in the coming years. The AL wild card game was lame, I strongly disliked both teams. In the end I was fine with the Red Sox winning another World Series, better than Yankees West. My way too early to predict prediction for next year is the Mariners once again miss the playoffs and finish +/- 2 games of 75 wins.

Go Dawgs!

I didn’t go to UW, but Ally my girlfriend (pictured right) graduated from there. We have football season tickets and tailgate in E1. When baseball season comes winding down, we start getting fired up on Saturdays. We will typically make all of the home games, and unless it’s a 7:30pm start we are tailgating. While the season hasn’t exactly gone the way we had hoped, the Dawgs are still in it for the Pac12 North. I’m excited for the last home game being a good start time in the early afternoon, and then the Apple cup after Thanksgiving. Be warned Coug fans, I enjoy some mad smack talking.

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Have a project that you’ve been putting off? With winter approaching, make sure to get it taken care of. Being broken down in the rain isn’t nearly as fun as being broken down in the sun.