What is needed to pass Vermont State Inspection?

The new Vermont State Inspection is active now.  The requirements are the same but now when you come for inspection your car gets plugged into a computer that communicates directly with the state.  This is to create a standard that every shop must meet in order to prevent dangerous cars on the road.

It takes us considerably longer to use the new system and both the upfront and ongoing costs are higher so every shop we have talked to is raising their prices for the inspection.  We hope to keep the cost reasonable.

The things we look for fall into a couple broad categories.  Brakes and exhaust must be in good shape.  Front windows and all external lights must work.  There must be no dash light (like a check engine light).  The tires must have good tread and the suspension elements must be functioning properly. Anything that could be a safety hazard, such as an oil leak that drips on a hot part or badly rusted fuel or brake lines, will also fail.  Don’t forget we need to see your insurance and registration!

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Snow Or All Season Tires?

In states that experience severe weather changes such as summer and winter climate, a common question may be “Do I need to change out my tires?”

 

The answer is YES! In these states all season tires should be run in the spring, summer, and fall seasons then winter tires should be put on for the winter season.

There are a few things that might make these tires differnt. All season tires are made to withstand warmer climates giving them longer wear. Running winter tires in warmer climate will not provide the same handling as all season tires, you will not get the response needed from a winter tire in warmer weather and your vehicles performance could be compromised. The rubber in a winter tire is designed to stay soft in freezing temperatures which allows the tire to conform to the road better. An all season tire will harden as the temperature drops making it harder to gain traction. The most important difference is a vehicle with winter tires stopping distance can be 30-40% shorter on snow, ice, or cold pavement compared to an all season tire.

 

“So how do I know when I should change my tires over?”

The temperature to do a tire change over is around 45 degrees. When temperatures start to hit above 45 degrees it is time to put on all season tires. When temperatures start to hit below 45 degrees it is time for winter tires.

 

Tires can be run for numerous seasons if changed out properly. Running winter tires year round will cause them to wear down very quickly due to warm temperatures, therefore it will end up costing more in the long run then changing them out accordingly.

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Ok,

true story.  It has been crazy cold here, like when I left my house this morning it was –20.  Car batteries don’t like it much when it gets this cold.  They work by a chemical reaction, which slows down the colder it gets.  If your battery is old or weak or your car isn’t charging well, your car might not start when it is very cold.

This happened yesterday to one of our oldest and best customers.  So, being a smart woman, she called AAA and asked that they come and give her battery a hand so she could get to work.  A while later the AAA guy shows up and looks under her hood.  Our friend has a car that has a protective bar across the front end under the hood, to protect the car in an accident.  So the guy looks at the bar (remember it is absolutely freezing outside) and says to our friend “Don’t you have a guy upstairs who can do this for you?”  Then says he doesn’t have time to take the bar off, and leaves!

Our intrepid friend called AAA again and has a second guy come to her house, who tows the car to us, while she’s making a formal complaint to AAA. (AAA was as horrified as I was by the remarks and actions of the first guy.  Of course, it is their job to remove the bar, test the battery and then tow it if needed).

We still hear stories like this, or worse, quite often.  There was the customer who came to us in tears because she was told by someone at another shop in town that her brains must be in another part of her anatomy because (in their opinion) she was wrong about a repair on her car (she wasn’t wrong – they were trying to sell her something she didn’t need).  Or the time another customer made a mistake by parking illegally, and when she went to go pick up her car from where it had been towed, there was no exhaust system left!  She went into the garage and asked them what had happened, where the exhaust was.  They played dumb and told her they had no idea what had happened, refusing to take any responsibility for their (presumable) actions.

Instances like this make you remember that being a woman in the auto world is still a hard job, whether as a customer or worker.  Sometimes our solutions to a car problem aren’t completely trusted seemingly because we are a woman run garage.

Women don’t get the full story, or get cheated into buying unnecessary parts at some garages because the male workers think it’s an easy dupe.  That’s not how we operate here.  Other than quality care and excellent service, with us, you get an honest opinion and offer no matter your gender.

 

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New Jersey Most Expensive State for Car Repairs

June 12, 2013—New Jersey is the most expense state and Vermont is the cheapest when it comes to car repairs, according to a new CarMD.com report.

The average total diagnostics-and-repair bill in New Jersey was $393, according to the report, which analyzed more than 160,000 check engine-related repairs made on model year 1996-2012 vehicles in 2012.

Rounding out the top five most expensive U.S. states for auto repair were District of Columbia, California, North Carolina and Maryland.

Overall, repair costs across the nation related to a vehicles’ check-engine lights averaged $367.84, a 10 percent increase.

CarMD said the vehicle owners’ procrastination in having repairs made as a major reason for the increases as delayed repairs become more expensive as problems worsen.

The report also cited Hurricane Sandy as the reason why New Jersey car owners doubled the number of trips they made for repairs, initially for flood damage. New Jersey drivers saw a nearly 21 percent increase in labor rates and a roughly 8 percent increase in parts costs.

The most affordable state for auto repair is Vermont, at $269.72. The state also had the lowest labor and parts costs, at $153.82 and $115.90, respectively.

The District of Columbia saw the largest overall increase in repair costs, up 20 percent, while Wyoming had the greatest drop in average repair costs, down 17 percent.

Ratchet and Wrench, June 2013

 

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Ethanol? Dry Gas?

People often say that you should add dry gas to your fuel tank when you live around here in the winter.  It is NOT necessary to do that.  The gas that you buy at the gas station already has ethanol added to it which keeps the gas from freezing down to -10 degrees and lower honestly.  Dry gas is very expensive, and while it does work, it is not necessary.

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Q. Why are my tires so flat!?!

A. Your tire is filled with gas, which in the cold doesn’t take up as much volume, so the pressure drops.  Some mornings you will wake up and you’ll have a couple pretty flat tires.  This isn’t time to freak out!  If you haven’t lost that much air, you can drive it to the closest gas station and put a couple quarters in and pump it up to the correct psi, or you can bring it to a garage where they will usually top it off for free.  If this is happening very often, you might want to invest in a personal car tire pump, which run anywhere from $10-$100.  Never drive on an entirely flat tire, as you run the risk of ruining your rim and the tire completely.

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Filing, ordering, pumping brakes: A day in the life of a Girlington intern

I sit on the bus on my way to work at a car garage.  Going through the stoplights I start thinking about what could happen in the shop today.  I mean really anything could happen.  It probably won’t but the point is it could.  I get to work and I make the coffee.  Everyone else is doing equally as important things, checking in customers and starting car repairs.

Some days I get to run the shuttle and that’s fun because I get to meet a bunch of new people with stories and jobs.  I don’t really come across a lot of people with real jobs in my life so I like learning about all the different things I could do with my time from these seemingly put together people.

Sometimes a tech will ask for help and I’ll get to actually learn what on earth is happening under the hubcap or the hood or the muffler.  Sometimes it’s really disturbing to see the state of disrepair of some of the cars.  The first time I really looked at a set of brakes they were so worn I was surprised the owner was still alive.

I go get parts from the dealers and feel cool when I actually know what I’m talking about and am able to communicate exactly what the tech wants.  Sometimes that doesn’t work out and I have to go back and get another version that hopefully works so I don’t have to embarrass myself further.

When I have a couple of free minutes, I like to watch the people at the carwash that I can see out of the window in front of my desk.  After they come out they sometimes spend up to an hour polishing their cars.  Windex, rags and their determination is all that’s visible from my little window.

When I’m not doing any of that, I’m ordering parts for customers, chatting with the dealers, filing old and new documents and files and primping up the shop to keep it as pristine as these women strive for.

It’s a stressful and hard-working environment, but everyone here still keeps a good head and actually has fun at work.  I feel like my whole life everyone has been telling me to enjoy school while I can because work is horrible and bosses are mean and rude, but this garage has taught me that that does not have to be the reality.

Then I go home and watch everybody drive these crazy cars that probably have a million things wrong with them and come back the next day to watch these totally awesome people fix these contraptions.

 

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How to check and fill tires!

Your car has 4 tire pressure sensors, one per tire, and when they detect that your tires are getting low on air, there is a symbol that will show up on your dashboard.  It’s sort of an upside down horseshoe with an exclamation point in it:

Most gas stations offer free or very cheap compressed air.  Each car has a different needed tire pressure, some machines tell you how many pounds your tire requires, and blink or beep once you’ve reached the fill point.  If the machine doesn’t tell you how much air you need, you can find out by opening your door and either looking in your door jamb or on the side of the door.  It will tell you two pressures, the hot psi and the cold psi.  The maximum amount that you should fill your tire to is the listed cold psi so it doesn’t get too pressurized.  In the heat your tires may show that their psi is higher than that, as air is a gas and it expands in heat and contracts in the cold.  It is best to check tire pressure in the morning, before the days heat can get to it, so it has the proper cold psi pressure.

Once you know how much air your tire needs, all you do is unscrew the air chuck and put the nozzle around the metal part and pull down the lever until the tire reaches it’s desired pressure.  Don’t forget to screw the cap back on so you’re not losing air everywhere you go!

Don’t forget to check if the rear and front wheel pressure has to be different so you don’t overfill or underfill!

 

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Car Care Class

We’re having a car care class! Who wouldn’t want to have some extra knowledge about their car?  Stop by and learn the things that seem so hard because you aren’t entirely confident about what you’re doing under the hood.  We’ll teach you how to change your oil, how to check all of the fluids, how to change a tire and how to change your messy wiper blades yourself!  Call first and come in this Wednesday, the 13th to learn how to do all these nifty car care necessities just in time to impress on Valentine’s day!

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Free Brakes for Food

It’s mid-February, and we’re in the midst of our Brakes for Food deal.  If haven’t heard on the radio or read about it in Seven Days, we’re offering a free brake inspection to anyone who brings in 6 or more non-perishable food items to be donated to the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf.  If the inspection shows that you do in fact need some new brakes, the pads come free!  This is only for the month of February, so stop by the shop and help out someone who really needs it this winter at the same time.

The Food Shelf has had a hard year, “We have had to go in the red as far as our budget,” says the director, Rob Meehan.  It is an integral and long-standing part of Burlington and surrounding towns’ cultures.  With winter here, it’s necessary to help out any way we can and this is a perfect opportunity to give back to the community and spruce up your cars’ machinery at the same time.

To participate, just call and make an appointment for your free brake inspection.  Show up with at least 6 non-perishable items for the Food Shelf.  If you need brakes, we’ll replace the pads for free and you pay only for the parts and labor on other needed parts.  This means the average person will save about $100-$150 on a brake job!  Lastly, the Food Shelf will get a needed infusion of food at this cold, dark time of year.  We’re still accepting appointments; don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

Look at the food we’ve collected so far!

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