Articles:

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

Air Conditioning

Question:Why isn't my air conditioner blowing cold air? Hometown Garage Answer: Your air conditioning system uses refrigerant to create cold air. The most common reasons Portland drivers lose their cold air have to do with the refrigerant. The first is not enough refrigerant. Refrigerant is a gas in the system, and very small holes in a hose, seal or coupler can allow enough to leak out to prevent the creation of cold air. Another potential problem for Portland auto owners is contamination. Over time the inside of the rubber hoses can deteriorate, and little bits of rubber can clog up various filters and other parts of the vehicle A/C system, preventing proper circulation of the refrigerant. And a component could also be worn or broken. So the first step for Portland drivers who can't cool their vehicle is a thorough air conditioning inspection, looking for leaks and worn parts. In ... read more

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

Proper Grade of Gas

There are a lot of misconceptions about fuel grades – and by fuel grades I mean the octane rating. With names like “Standard," “Super," “Plus," and “Premium,” it’s no wonder that people associate the octane rating/grade with quality. Octane ratings are expressed as a number that typically ranges from 87 to 91 at the pump. The number does not mean “better” but rather signifies the appropriateness of a particular grade of fuel for a particular engine. Octane is a measure of gasoline’s ability to resist igniting before the spark plug goes off. Gasoline and air are compressed in the engine’s combustion chamber. When the pressure reaches a certain point, the gas will spontaneously combust. You don’t want that to happen; you want the spark plug to ignite the fuel at precisely the right time. When the gas combusts prematurely, the piston will try to go down while it is still being pushed up by the crank sh ... read more