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.

 

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

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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

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Yahoo!

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.

 

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Why do I need new rotors?

Changing a brake rotorYou have just been told your brakes need to be replaced. Can’t you just replace the pads? Sometimes, sure, but often the rotors need replacing as well. Brakes work by the caliper pressing the pad into the rotor (or drum, but that’s another story). The key to safe, effective braking is perfect contact between the pad and rotor.
If we have recommended replacement, the rotors are either warped or rusted or grooved from the old pads. New pads need a nice, smooth surface to press against. Turning rotors takes the tech more time (costing you more money) and you end up with a thinner rotor. A thinner rotor doesn’t dispel heat efficiently so is likely to warp. So if your rotors are worn, we recommend replacing, rather than turning them.

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What is going on at the shop this week

Happy Birthday Dustin!This week has been a fun one at the shop.  Tire season is slowing winding down so we can start to work at a more reasonable rate.  Plus, Brittni started her three month apprenticeship!  Plus it was Dustin’s birthday!

Brittni wowed us all by making amazing carrot cake cupcakes for Dustin on her second day with us.  They had little icing carrots on top and were as good as they sound.  After work some of us went to Our House in Winooski for a birthday dinner.  It was really good (fried pickles, anyone?) and we had a blast.

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Pothole Grief

PotholesWe have seen a lot of pothole grief this spring. Now that the road crews are out in force it will hopefully get better.

Hitting a pothole hard can put a world of hurt on your car. We have seen everything from ruined tires to broken shocks to cars being jerked out of alignment.

If you have hit a pothole hard this spring (who hasn’t?) keep an eye on your tire wear, especially if it feels the car is pulling a bit more than usual. If you need an alignment you might see it in uneven tread wear. If you feel a vibration at higher speeds, you may have knocked a wheel weight off and just need to have your tires adjusted.

Photo credit

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Girlington Dogs

Girlington Garage DogsI had a funny thing happen to me the other day. I was in town with my two little dogs and a man said to me “I know those dogs!”  Then he looked at me and said,

I know you, too. You’re from Girlington

This happens to me a lot. People see me walking the dogs or at the dog park and they call out “The Girlington dogs!” 

It is funny, but for some of us, it is easier to recognize dogs than people (I have never had someone call out “The Girlington woman!”)

Dogs are so much more unique than a person you don’t really know very well.

Photo of actual Girlington Garage dog: Nick Perez

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