Articles:

Battery Replacement

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 sp ... read more

Tech Question on Your Drive Shaft

Hometown Garage Tech Question: I'm Doug. A few years ago I was driving my '85 powder blue Dodge Ramcharger with about 80,000 miles (129,000 kilometers) on it. I was going up a hill in Portland and heard a noise like a tin can rolling down the road. I looked back and saw my drive shaft bouncing down the hill. I put it in four wheel drive and drove to my Portland mechanic to get it fixed. What could I have done to prevent that? Hometown Garage Tech Answer: Now that's quite a story. Doug was fortunate that his vehicle had a part-time four wheel drive system that would let him get home without a rear drive shaft. This “case of the missing drive shaft” highlights the need for regular inspections. Now most drivers in Portland are familiar with recommendations for preventive maintenance services like oil changes and coolant replacement. What you may not know is that there are also recommendations for inspections at various interval ... read more

Serpentine Belt

You know that long belt that snakes around the front of your engine? It's called the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine as it turns. It powers your alternatorair conditioning compressor and power steering pump. On some vehicles it also runs the water pumpradiator fan and power brakes. Sounds like a lot of important stuff, doesn't it? If your serpentine belt were to break on one of our Portland, CT, roads, your battery would die in just a short distance. If it runs your fan or water pump, your engine could overheat. And steering and braking could be more difficult. Obviously, the best thing is to replace your serpentine belt before it breaks. Check your owner's manual for when it's recommended that you replace yo ... read more

A Guide To Battery Maintenance

In today's Hometown Garage auto care blog, we are focusing on battery maintenance. Eventually your car battery will fail and you will need to replace it. In fact, 70% don't even make it four years. There are some things Portland drivers can do, however, to make their battery last a little longer. It's all about the flow of electrical power. When you start your vehicle, the battery uses power to get your engine cranking. As your engine runs, your alternator generates electricity to run all your electrical systems: like lights, a half dozen computers, anti-lock brake system, traction control, power windows, electronic fuel injectors, stability control, air conditioning, transmission servos – the list goes on. Any leftover electricity goes to recharge your vehicle battery. Then you turn on your radio and seat heaters; maybe plug in your cell phone and computer; the kids watch a DVD and pretty soon there isn't much extra el ... read more

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

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