Articles:

Synthetic Oil

Question: What is synthetic oil and should I use it? Hometown Garage Answer: Regular oil, also called conventional oil, comes from dead dinosaurs. Conventional oil molecules are long hydrocarbon chains of various lengths. Imagine a bunch of pencils – some used and some brand new. Synthetic oil is often more highly refined petroleum-based oil. The molecules are shorter and closer to the same length. Think a bunch of those little golf pencils. Some synthetic oil is man-made. The molecules are rounder and much more uniform. Think marbles. So you can see that as you progress from conventional oil to synthetic blends (a mixture of conventional and synthetic) to full synthetic oil, there will be less friction in your engine. Less friction means less heat – so better lubrication and protection against wear for Portland drivers. Synthetic blends and full synthetics also cost more. Synthetic oil is more resistan ... read more

Suspension

Let's talk about your suspension – you know, the system that connects your wheels to your vehicle, controls your handling and delivers a good ride as you cruise around Portland, CT. Your suspension is critical for proper steering, stopping and stability. Hey, it's a rough world out there in CT – every time you hit a pothole, a bump or an object in the road, your suspension system has to absorb the impact and maintain control. As you can imagine, your suspension has a lot of joints and pivot points that allow your wheels to move up and down over bumps and to turn as you steer. These parts include ball joints, tie rod ends, the pitman, idler arms and the control arm bushing. They simply wear out over time. When a joint or other part is worn the suspension parts don't fit together as tightly as they should. Handling and steering has a loose feel and you may hear strange noises. Your tires will wear unevenly becau ... read more

Used Car Inspections

It’s always exciting to get a new car – even when it’s used. But it can feel like you’re going out on a limb a bit when you buy a used vehicle. I mean, people sell vehicles for a lot of reasons. Maybe they just wanted a new car, maybe there was something wrong with it, and maybe there was something really wrong with it. It’s a great idea to order a report from a vehicle history service. This can uncover title problems and may reveal serious accidents or flood damage as well as any recall notices for the vehicle. Maintenance and repair records are a plus, but most sellers don’t have them. Of course the best thing is to get a professional to perform a used vehicle inspection. The inspection will go much deeper than just how good the vehicle looks and drives. You’ll get a feel for the vehicle’s overall condition, the status of major safety systems and an indication of how well it has been maintained. You’ll ... read more

Fuel Filters

Hello Portland drivers. Today's Hometown Garage auto care post focuses on your fuel filter. When your fuel isn't clean, your fuel injectors can start to become clogged up and your vehicle engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run efficiently. This hurts fuel economy and performance and can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber. That's why all vehicles sold in CT come equipped with a fuel filter, although on many newer vehicles, the filter is inside the fuel tank and is not serviceable. The job of the filter is to clean out little pieces of dirt and contamination. Of course, the filter will eventually get clogged up and need to be replaced. Fuel filters for diesel cars need to be replaced more frequently than those that run on gasoline. If your fuel filter is clogged, the ... read more

Wheel Bearings

Question: I remember my dad having the shop “pack the bearings” on the family car. Is this something I need to have done? Hometown Garage Answer: That's a really good question. At one time, all wheel bearings were “serviceable” and needed to be taken care of from time to time. It's a little trickier these days. First off, the wheel bearings in your vehicle make sure your wheels rotate smoothly. As you can imagine, with all those revolutions per minute your wheels can generate a lot of heat. The bearings keep that heat down as much as possible. They're packed in grease for lubrication. The term “packing the bearings” refers to putting fresh grease around the bearings. On many modern vehicles, the wheel bearing assembly is sealed. These wheel bearings are not serviceable so there is no maintenance that can be performed on them. When the bearings wear, the entire assembl ... read more

Engine Air Filter

Today's Hometown Garage post focuses on the importance of protecting your mass air flow sensor or MAF. Air and fuel are mixed together to be burned in your engine. The amount is controlled by how hard you press on the accelerator or by external factors like climbing hills or hauling loads. Based on how much air you need – and how much is available – your engine management computer tells your fuel injection system how much fuel to send to your engine. But what if the computer is getting the wrong information about how much air is coming into your engine? Well, it would send the wrong amount of fuel and your engine performance would suffer. The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor measures the volume, temperature and density of the air flowing into your engine. With that information, the computer calculates how much oxygen is available to burn and adjusts the amount of fuel it sends. A dirty or damaged MAF sensor can give the wrong readings, hurt your fuel economy, damage the cata ... read more

Alternator

Your alternator makes electricity to start and run your engine and all of the electrical systems in your vehicle. That’s everything from the on-board computers to the turn signals. And of course there is the entertainment system, seat heaters, power window, and everything you plug into the power outlets. After your alternator makes enough electricity to do all that, it recharges your battery with what’s left over. When you constantly have a low or dead battery, the alternator is usually a prime suspect. However, the alternator is just one component of the starting/charging system, and a problem with any of the other components could be the actual cause. In addition to the alternator, the charging/starting system includes the battery, starter, serpentine belt system and all of the electrical cables that connect them. Your Hometown Garage technician has a systematic process of testing components and connections to get to the source of your problem. The initial symptoms dete ... read more

Anti-Lock Brakes

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) help you stop faster. That is not always the case on loose gravel or snowy surfaces. Anti-lock brakes, in fact, are designed to help you maintain control of your vehicle in an emergency braking situation. Imagine you are driving on a snowy CT road. You need to slam on your brakes and your rear wheels lock up. Chances are good that the rear end of your vehicle will try to pass the front end and you can easily lose control. What would happen in the same circumstance if your front wheels locked up? Well you certainly would not be able to steer properly and your front end would go to wherever momentum leads it. The ABS modulates your brakes on and off as many as 15 times a second. This keeps your wheels from locking up while providing the greatest amount of braking possible. You are better able to steer your vehicle and maintain control. Portland service advisors often talk about the 3 S's of anti-lock brakes: Stomp – Stay – Steer. Stomp on ... read more

Exhaust

Question:My car failed its emissions test – what do I need to do? Hometown Garage Answer: Let's get this out of the way: a leak in your exhaust system could be deadly. If Portland drivers smell exhaust in the passenger cabin or hear an unusual exhaust sound, they should get their exhaust system checked and repaired. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Hometown Garage. Carbon monoxide in your exhaust is odorless, colorless and tasteless can be fatal to you and your passengers, so don't delay if you suspect an exhaust leak. There could be a number of reasons for a failed CT emissions test so some diagnostic work is in order. A common reason is that the catalytic converter has failed. The catalytic converter removes some of the harmful elements in exhaust. When a catalytic converter fails it must be replaced, which isn't cheap for Portland drivers. Many Portland folks stop the ... read more

Spark Plugs

In Portland, CT, the days when Portland drivers changed their spark plugs every couple of years has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now… First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer for Portland drivers and they're designed better. The second reason spark plugs used to have to be changed in vehicles and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn't burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn't happen as often. Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something's wrong, spark plugs just don't foul like they used to. Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to releas ... read more

If You Are Using A Screen Reader And Are Having Problems Using This Website, please call Hometown Garage (860) 342-5777 For Assistance.