Articles:

Using The Correct Fluids For Your Vehicle

Big advances in automotive technology have led to the development of high-tech fluids to keep pace. A simple example of this is the cooling system. For decades it was primarily made out of iron, steel and rubber hoses. There was one kind of coolant that protected these components from corrosion. Now cooling system components are made with various metal alloys and plastics. These materials require different additives to protect them from corrosion. Since the materials used vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, we now have a number of different kinds of coolant. And it's important for Portland drivers to use the right coolant. If you pour in the wrong kind, it won't protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Of course, your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Hometown Garage will know the proper coolant to use. If you're concerned you may have use the wrong fluid, be safe and have your friendly and knowledgea ... read more

Prevent Costly Repairs

You’ve probably seen auto parts delivery trucks in Portland making their rounds. Every part has a story behind it. Unfortunately, some of the stories are tales of repairs that could have been prevented. One stop may be to deliver an engine air filter and a mass air flow sensor for a customer’s pick-up. His service advisor has been recommending he replace that dirty air filter for the last couple of oil changes. The guy’s been saying no to save a couple of bucks. Now dirty air has been getting into his mass air flow sensor for so long that it’s ruined. Talk about stepping over dollars to pick up a dime. Perhaps the next stop is for a fuel system cleaning kit and a set of four fuel injectors. This nice lady has never had her fuel system cleaned. Over the years, gum and varnish have completely ruined her fuel injectors. Her tech will replace the injectors and clean the system, removing carbon deposits from her valves and combustion chamber. Her engine will be mak ... read more

Power Steering System

Although a number of newer vehicles are coming equipped with electric power steering, the vast majority of Portland 's vehicles on the road use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine. Power steering fluid provides power assistance and also protects components from rust and corrosion. Manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. The old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed. Unfortunately, many Portland drivers don't realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks ... read more

Headlight Restoration

Question: My headlight lenses are all cloudy. I checked with my Portland vehicle dealership about replacing them and it is very expensive. What else can I do? Hometown Garage Answer: You are right - replacing a headlight assembly can cost hundreds of dollars. Luckily there is something Portland citizens can do about cloudy headlamps. First let's talk about why the headlamps are so cloudy. Back in the day, Portland vehicles' headlights were glass. These were heavy, could crack, and had practical limits as to their shape, so auto manufacturers started using plastic headlight lenses. CT road grime and UV light take a toll on the plastic surface. Over time the lenses get cloudy and discolored. Just look at the vehicles in any Portland parking lot and you'll see a lot of that. Because a disproportionate amount of traffic accidents happen at night, smart Portland citizens make sure they have maximum visibility. Cloudy lense ... read more

Fuel Saving Tips - Tire Pressure

Under-inflated tires waste gas. Think how hard it is to walk in sand; you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When Portland drivers tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from one location to another.  Portland residents should always check their tire pressure when they gas up. If they're low, even just a little bit, bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of the driver's door that gives the vehicle's recommended tire pressure. And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations. That's severely under-inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak, get it fixed right away. We can get that done quickly at Hometown Garage in Portland. Get some air and save so ... read more

Radiator Fan

Portland drivers who are old enough have probably heard the term “fan belt." Back in the day, the radiator fan in your vehicle was turned by a belt driven by the engine. There are still belt driven fans, although most are now driven by the serpentine belt. But most Portland vehicles now have electric fans that draw fresh air across the radiator to cool it. As coolant/antifreeze circulates in the cooling system, it captures heat from the engine and flows into the radiator. Air cools the radiator and the coolant in it before it sends it back into the engine to pick up some more heat. Now your engine has an ideal temperature range in which it is most efficient: it shouldn't be too hot or too cool. The electric radiator fans help maintain the ideal temperature. A switch mounted in a cooling system passage checks the temperature of the coolant. If the coolant is at the low end of the range, the switch turns off the fan motor. When the coolant rises to a certain tempera ... read more

Timing Belt

Question: My friend had a broken timing belt and it was very expensive to repair his engine. What can I do to avoid a broken timing belt? Hometown Garage Answer: Well, a broken timing belt can lead to one of the most expensive engine repairs Portland drivers will ever face. The good news is that replacing your timing belt on its recommended schedule can help avoid those problems. Here's a brief overview of what the timing belt does: Air is drawn into the cylinder of the engine through the intake valves. After the air and fuel mixture is burned, it's pushed out through the exhaust valves. The timing belt, which is driven by the engine, turns the camshafts which control when the intake and exhaust valves open and close. It is important that the opening and closing of the valves take place at exactly the right time for the engine to run properly. Beyond that, on some vehicle engines, the valves actually extend i ... read more

The Harm in Skipping an Oil Change

Some new are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 10,000 miles, or 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers, or more. Following these recommendations is very important to avoid engine damage. When Portland drivers go too long between oil changes, oil starts to turn to sludge. This causes small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail. What causes oil sludge? It's a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every vehicle engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions in CT lead to more rapid sludge formation. Severe driving includes short trips around Portland or trips in freezing CT conditions. The engine just doesn't get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate. Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop and go ... read more

Heater Core

Portland drivers may wonder where the air in a vehicle's passenger compartment comes from. Well, as your engine starts to warm up, it also warms the coolant/antifreeze that circulates around the engine and through the radiator. There is also a hose that carries coolant/antifreeze from the engine to the heater core and another that takes it back into the engine. The heater core looks like a little radiator and lives in the air blend box behind the dashboard. When you turn on the heat, air blows over the heater core, is warmed, and comes into the cabin. Some vehicles have a heater valve that moves coolant through the heater core when the heat is on and bypasses the heater core when the heat is off. In other vehicles, the temperature of the air is controlled within the air blend box by how much air is directed over the heater core. The engine cooling system, in a larger sense, also encompasses the heater core. Things that adversely affect, say, your radiator will ... read more

When do I need to replace my battery?

Question:When do I need to replace my battery? Hometown Garage Answer: That's a good question for Portland drivers. All batteries wear out and need to be replaced – but some are replaced before their time. Look, if your battery is dying and you need a jump-start, it could very well be that you have a bad battery. But Portland drivers should have Hometown Garage test the battery first to see if it's actually bad. The problem could be parasitic drain or a bad alternator that's not properly charging your battery. And Portland drivers in this situation also need to have their service advisor check their alternator and have it tested. A surprisingly high percentage of “bad” alternators brought into Hometown Garage in Portland are actually just fine: the problem is a worn serpentine belt and/or belt tensioner. If the belt is slipping, it's not spinning the alternator properly so it can't fu ... read more