Winter Driving

When driving in the winter, especially on long drives or drives to somewhere you’ve never been, it’s always a good idea to pack items to keep you warm in case of an accident.  Our tech Jim suggests hand warmers, blankets and snacks (especially if you have kids).



Can I put full synthetic oil in my car if it calls for SW-30/JLU-20 synthetic blend?

Yes, you can always put in a higher quality of oil than your car requires, just never put in a lower quality.


How often should I change my oil?

It depends on the car and what kind of oil it calls for.  Generally a regular synthetic blend calls for a change every 3,000-4,000 miles whereas a full synthetic only requires a change every 5,000-6,000 miles.


When should I change my timing belt and is it recommended to do the water pump at the same time?

It varies between different models of cars, some timing belts need to be changed every 100,000 miles or sooner.  Replacing the water pump at the same time is recommended, as it saves you labor costs and is good preventative maintenance.


If I have to replace one tire on an AWD vehicle, do I have to replace all 4?

Yes it is highly recommended to have exact or nearly exact tread depths on all 4 wheels as to not damage the differential.  Unless you’re able to find an exact match to your current tires, which can be very difficult, we suggest investing in all new tires.


Why is harder to start my car when it’s cold?

Because batteries work by a chemical reaction which is slowed when it’s cold.


Why do I have to pay for diagnostics separate from the job being done?

We don’t want to make a repair without being sure what the problem is, and that takes time.  As the techs are professionals, they must be payed for their time.


Through Sharon’s Eyes

We had the wonderful experience of serving a lovely couple from Knoxville, TN, who broke down in Burlington (it wasn’t nearly so wonderful an encounter for them!)  Sharon and Bill spend much of their free time traveling and Sharon wrote a very sweet bit about us in her travel blog.  Check out the blog at: Below is the part about us, but check out the rest as well.  It makes one appreciate home to see it through the eyes of appreciative travelers!

I cannot leave the subject of our Kia misfortune without thanking Girlington Garage.  When we realized something was very wrong with the car, I immediately researched the area for AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities.   AAA was one of my clients during my days in CorporateWorld and I know for a fact, that the stringent criteria for obtaining and keeping this designation is TOUGH!  A facility has worked hard for it and must continue to work hard to KEEP it.  Girlington was the only garage listed in the Burlington area with the AAA Approved designation. What fun to read EVERY WORD of their website and learn that the garage is female-owned.   But who cares who owns it with reviews like it has?   And I cannot use enough superlatives to adequately describe our experience with them from start to finish.  Yes, it cost us a lot of money we were not anxious to spend, but not once did we feel taken advantage of because we were a long way from home.  In fact, Demeny (owner) made every effort to explain to us ways in which she felt we MIGHT be able to make it home, but it was going to involve careful monitoring and daily steps to take.  We felt so good about the garage, we authorized the repairs and even let them go ahead and take care of a couple of things that should’ve been done during our pre-trip maintenance check prior to leaving.  There was NOTHING the garage or anyone we dealt with that wasn’t done courteously, promptly and at no time, were we ever not kept involved in the process.  People, this is customer service! Since it isn’t likely I’ll be able to use their services again, I truly hope by giving them a shout-out here, someone else might benefit down the road.  We wish Demeny and her staff the very best and have no doubt Girlington Garage will continue to prosper.

Thanks so much, Sharon, and you and Bill stop by next time you are in Vermont!


What to look for in a used car

We often get asked what should one look for in a used car.  It depends, of course, on what you want but most folks are looking for something relatively inexpensive and yet dependable.  With that in mind, we usually recommend a solid, reputable import like Subaru, Toyota or Honda.  This type of car tends to be well built and parts for future repairs (inevitable in a used car!) will be available and less expensive than European or higher end cars.

The first step is figuring out how much you want to spend and what you can expect to get for that much money.  Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds are great for checking the approximate value of used cars.

Once you find what you are looking for have it checked by us or any other independent shop.  Even if you are buying a “certified” car from a dealer, have it checked by a neutral party.  No one can predict what will happen when you drive it off the lot, but even an hour spent by a professional can tell you a lot about the structure of the car, what might need work soon and perhaps how it has been cared for.



Yea for Ernesto!

Ernesto, an ASE Advanced Master Technician moved here from Los Angeles to work for us!  During the winter he gave up working on luxury performance cars in Beverly Hills for the likes of Joaquin Phoenix to tackle our homegrown Vermont rust.  He has about 30 years experience and has countless specialty certifications.  He  is enjoying being our go-to guy for difficult diagnostics and electrical problems.  Until he came along we occasionally had to send these problems to the dealers.  He also handles all our high performance cars.  And his wife and kids are really happy to be closer to Grandma here in Vermont!


Grandma’s Hand-me-down Car

You have a surprisingly old car with very low mileage and little body rust.  Maybe someone who didn’t drive much passed it on to you or maybe you found it used.  It may be a real prize but remember that it is still an older car.

Rubber, plastic, fluids and metal all degrade over time so even if a car isn’t driven much, you may encounter problems, especially with seals, hoses, belts and boots.  The seals in the engine and transmission are the biggest potential biggest problems. Fuel, oil and coolant sitting often gather sediments or condensation.  The battery may not hold a charge.  Especially if you areconsidering buying a car like this, take int account replacing parts from age rather than from normal wear.  If you consider  these issues, it still might be a great car!



The Onion Problem

You take your car to your garage and, after being charged a hefty sum for diagnosis, you are told it is likely that your doohickey is shorted out. You need your car so you agree to replace the doohickey. After a few hours or, longer in some cases, you pick up your car. You drive it for a while and the same symptom is still present! Your mechanic must be a hack or a thief, right?

Not necessarily. Cars are complex systems, with each part connected in some way to every other part.  More often than we would like, problems are like onions, with the first layer needing to be pealed away before we can assess the second, or sometimes the third layer. . It’s not that what you have had done didn’t need doing but that the deeper problem –or problems – can’t be diagnosed until the upper layer is dealt with. It is not unusual for several components of one system to fail at the same time, or around the same time. All are the same age and mileage and have been through the same workout as the other components in the system. Also, when one begins to fail, it puts stress on the other parts of the system so that there can be a domino effect. It is not surprising that they would all fail together.

If possible, your shop has warned you this might be the case, but often we have no way of knowing ahead of time. And there is nothing we hate more than having you come back for another expensive repair soon after leaving the shop. We know you are upset and feeling distrustful. But hopefully you have built up a relationship with your shop. Just as you put your faith in us, we also put our faith in you. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is when a customer who has been through one of these onion problems understands and comes back without resentment. . When that happens they earn our loyalty like very few other customers do. We know that they trust us and we will do most anything to keep that trust. It is incredibly valuable to us.


Girlington Featured on Yahoo Shine: Our Awesome Video

So, here is our Yahoo video for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. We actually got to page one on Yahoo home page! Woot!

I wanted to provide a place where people didn’t feel

like they were getting ripped off, where people felt like they could trust what the technicians were saying to them, what the technicians were doing. ~ Demeny



We are so moved by all the comments and emails that you have sent our way via Yahoo.   In some ways the film is not an accurate rendition of our shop – we have two great male techs and lots of wonderful male customers.  We think there are honest shops everywhere and this isn’t a concept new to us.  Due to the nature of the auto industry, it is hard for customers to know who they can trust upfront and that is what we try to address in the way we do business.

We do feel deeply that more women should go into the skilled trades and that schools and businesses should help encourage that (we have had female apprentices since we started).  Since there is a miniscule percent of women in the automotive field, a little extra help and support doesn’t feel sexist to us!  Being a professional automotive technician or a service writer are high paying skilled occupations and the field would be better for a more gender balanced work environment.  That said, ladies, it takes time and training and you will have to be willing to get into debt for school and tools and work at the bottom for at least a few years until you really know what you are doing – as in any other skilled profession.

On another note:  Tee shirts, etc., are available.  We just never had enough demand to set up an online store.  Call us at 802-660-0055 and tell us what you want, your address and give us a credit card over the phone and we can send stuff to you.



Change your oil religiously

If you do nothing else for your car, change the oil religiously. We have seen more than one engine completely ruined by infrequent oil changes. The oil in your engine is the only thing that prevents metal on metal friction inside your engine so when the oil breaks down, you are doing damage.