How does an engine work?

The engine in your car is called a four stroke engine.  To complete a cycle for each cylinder the piston has two down strokes and two up strokes.  The first stroke is down, the intake valve opens up and gasoline is pulled into the cylinder by the downward force of the piston.   Just as the piston gets to the bottom, the intake valve closes and the piston starts back up to compress the gasoline.  If the intake valve had not closed the piston would come up and simply drive the gasoline out of the cylinder.  Once the piston is all the way back up and the gas is compressed, the spark plug fires igniting the gasoline causing an explosion.   This forces the piston down on its power stroke.  Once it reaches the bottom of the power stroke the piston starts back up.  The exhaust valve opens and the upstroke of the piston forces the exhaust gasses out of the engine.  All of the cylinders are doing this at different times in sequence to maximize the power output of the engine.   In a four cylinder engine two pistons are going up at the same time and two are going down at the same time, but they are all on different strokes.  Of the two pistons going down, one is on its intake stroke, and the other is on its power stroke.  Of the two going up, one is on its compression stroke and the other is on its exhaust stroke.  The timing belt or chain makes sure the valves are opening and closing at the correct times.  

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Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) explained.

When you registered your first car it was probably the first time you worked with a VIN. VIN means Vehicle Identifications Number; it is commonly referred to as the VIN number. (Vehicle identification number number?) This number (which also has letters in it) is in essence the serial number for your car, a unique number that identifies this specific vehicle. Every vehicle made from 1954 to the present has been given its own number. From 1954 to 1980 they were simply made up by the manufacturer. From 1981 to the present it has been required to fit a specific patter to make them more uniform.

Not only is the VIN used for registering and inspecting the vehicle, it is used extensively in keeping track of its service records and accidents. VINs are crucial to getting the correct parts for your car when it is being repaired, some car dealers will not allow you to order parts without giving them the VIN.

A lot can be learned about a vehicle with the VIN without even seeing the car itself. The first three digits of the VIN tell who the manufacturer is and the country of origin. This is called the WMI, or world manufacturer identifier. Digits four through nine are the VDS, or vehicle description section. This explains information such as car line, series, body type, restraint system, transmission/ engine information, and the ninth digit is a secret digit used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to detect invalid VINs. Digits ten through seventeen are called the VIS or Vehicle identifier section. Digit ten is the year of the car. The rest of the digits indicate the location of the manufacturing assembly plant and its assembly line production sequence.

Not only does the government use the VIN extensively to track cars for registration, theft prevention, and theft recovery, but it is used extensively by banks, insurance companies, and companies like CARFAX to keep track of the history of a vehicle. Twisted Wrench relies heavily on the VIN for your vehicle to make sure we get the right maintenance and repair information. Vehicles are getting very complicated and specific, so the information in the VIN is crucial to proper repairs.

Technology is moving fast, so now vehicles have a bar code that can be scanned to retrieve the VIN. You can get an app for your smart phone to do this. Most smart phone bar code apps will scan VINS. In addition to using the VIN for repair information, Twisted Wrench uses the scanner at wholesale used car auctions to determine vehicle information such as value, accident history, et cetera to ensure we only buy the best cars possible to sell to our customers.

For more on how a VIN is broken down you can go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/vehicle-identification-number for more detailed information. If you wish to dig deeper into a specific VIN you can go to www.decodethis.com and you can find out a lot of specifics about your car. Have fun investigating!

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Repair or Replace Your Car?

At some point a car is no longer worth fixing.  In Vermont, with a Japanese car this is almost always due to rust issues.  Mechanically a car can be fixed and continue to be a good car for well over 200,000 miles.  My youngest daughter is driving a 1997 Toyota Camry.  Her grandparents bought it new.  My wife and I purchased it from them some years later, and we drove it until we turned it over to our daughter when she got her driver’s license.  The car has over 273,000 miles on it now, and it still runs like a champ.  However, it is starting to get rusty, and we will be retiring it in the fall when she goes back to school for her sophomore year.   My oldest daughter got her car in a very similar fashion, and is it still going strong at nearly 180,000 miles, even though it is eighteen years old.  I have a 2004 Subaru Forester with 197,000 miles on it.  I drive it frequently out of state to car auctions, and to haul my girl’s possessions back and forth to their colleges in the fall and spring.  I trust these cars even at the high mileages they are at.  They are well maintained.

Purely from a monetary stand point I would continue to drive a Japanese car until it gets too rusty to justify repairs.  An older car is going to cost you somewhere between $1000.00 and $1500.00 per year to keep on the road from a repair and maintenance point of view.  Some years will be less, some years will be more, but that’s what you can bank on over a period of a few years.  At $1500.00 a year this is $125.00 a month, a lot less than a car payment.

Does that mean you should skip buying that new or newer car?  Absolutely not!  If you want a new car get one!  Newer features, nicer paint, a two door now that the kids are grown up, all good reasons to go for it.  My only point is that I have, on a number of occasions, had people decide that they are going to replace their car because they feel they are spending too much money fixing it.  Most of the time it is not cheaper to replace your car.

However, when the rust starts to get too bad it stops making sense to fix it.  Combining mechanical repairs with the body work necessary will make it an unsound investment.  We will keep you informed in these situations.  We frequently tell people that they will need to start thinking about what their next car is going to be…soon.  Rust issues eventually will cause structural integrity issues, and therefore safety issues.  Rest assured we are watching this for you if we see your car regularly.

 

Twisted Wrench Car

This Car has 196,000 Miles!

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Now Specializing in VOLVO REPAIR!

Newsflash!

We are now specializing in Volvos too! If you own a Volvo, you can expect the same quality service and care we provide for your Subaru, Toyota, Honda and Acura. We look forwards to taking care of your car.

Vermont’s driving conditions are unique; we have the whole range from freezing cold to high humidity with overcast skies.  Not to mention the dirt roads, hills, and potholes!  These conditions tend to make people want an extra safe vehicle to rely on.  Volvos are very popular in the Green Mountain state for that very reason.  Many parents want their children to drive Volvos while they are here going to college.  Their high safety rating allows people to enjoy a great sense of security.  They were designed in Sweden where they know about winter travel.  Many models have all wheel drive, and Volvos are made with rust prevention in mind.  They simply do not rust like many other vehicles will in Vermont conditions.  Vermont uses more salt on its roads than all of the other New England states, and Volvos hold up better and last longer against this “asalt.”   Because the bodies last so long, Volvos can be kept on the road for a long time.  Many people are driving their parents or grandparents old Volvos.  These cars handle well in adverse conditions and have that unique European feel to them.  Even older Volvos handle a lot better than many new cars, which makes them perfectly suited for Vermont.  This is why Twisted Wrench is now offering maintenance, repair, and sales of Volvo automobiles.  One of the contributing factors to this decision is that we have staff with Volvo experience, so we know we will be ready to service these cars for our customers.  We are stocking up on high quality Volvo parts and brand specific tools, so we can service your car as well as the dealer does.  Our goal is to be the “one stop Vermont auto shop,” which makes Volvo a nice fit for the Twisted Wrench car family.

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Where is Twisted Wrench?

The untouched countryside in rural Vermont is beautiful and relaxing but not convenient for parts delivery or commuters. Downtown on the other hand is right in the nerve center of the area but space is available at a premium price and it can get congested. Considering these factors, Twisted Wrench has been purposefully located close to where people work. Also close to the resources need to keep Twisted Wrench running efficiently and affordably.  Twisted Wrench is located in the heart of Chittenden County near Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. We offer Automotive services in Burlington Vermont area by settling in South Burlington Vermont, located two miles from exit 15 on Rte 89 and two miles from the airport entrance. Tucked away in an industrial park in an interesting part of South Burlington,  with grass and trees all around. Here the green space not only looks good but is required! Twisted Wrench is between a large working farm on the Winooski River to one side and the airport on the other. When driving down Lime Kiln Road across from Saint Michael’s College look to the left and see a panoramic view of the green mountain range on way to Twisted Wench. If you are lucky you will catch an amazing sunrise over Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump.

Approaching Twisted Wrench from Rte 2A in Essex Vermont and Williston Vermont a drive down River Cove Road will bring you quickly to our shop. This drive is pretty one down one of the last dirt roads in the area going through protected natural lands. The third road that leads to Twisted Wrench wraps around the Burlington International Airport and gives access for the people living in the suburbs. All three of the roads leading Twisted Wrench’s location at:    60 Ethan Allen Drive. Find the flashing light at the entrance to our road and we are the 1st place on the left as you go down Ethan Allen Drive. Our new sign will greet you as you arrive at the place for all your automotives needs. The trip to Twisted Wrench is well worth it. Give us a call or schedule you next appointment here on our website: http://twistedwrenchvt.com/auto-repair-2/schedule-your-next-subaru-honda-toyota-acura-service-here/

Find out where the best automotive service and used car sales are located at Twisted Wrench including the “Best Warranty Coverage” in the area. You and your car will want to be where the Twisted Wrench Family is found.

 

“Since 1996 you can get it straight from Twisted Wrench”

 

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Winter Tires

Winter vs. All-season tires

All season and winter tires have their benefits and draw backs. Winter tires provide that extra traction when you need it most and all-season tires provide the convenience of not having to switch your tires over every season. That isn’t wear the benefits end however.  Winter tires are designed to work in cold climates where the temp is low and the wet and snowy conditions can be a major burden. Winter tires will help provide added traction when roads are at their worst making you and your family safer in those conditions. Winter tires use a different rubber compound that allows the rubber to stay soft and flexible in colder weather. This helps to provide added traction when the weather gets very cold and all-season tires harden up and may have trouble keeping traction because of this difference.  All-season tires are designed to give you good traction in all road conditions but not great traction in any one area. Some all-season tires are made for specific purposes like rainy or muddy roads. At the same time the all-season tire provides the convenience of not having to swap tires over every season and saves you money in that regard. In summary there are many benefits to both tire choices and there pros and cons can make or break your decision on what you want to do with your vehicle. Tires are a critical part of your car and have more to do with your safety then most people know. Make sure to do your homework and make the decision that is right for you.

 

All Season Tire

All Season Tire

 

Winter Tire

Winter Tire

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Alignment Tips

What a great summer! If you’re like most of us, you spent a fair amount of time traveling over Vermont roads. The scenery in Vermont is amazing, but a lot of it is seen from roads that are not perfectly smooth. We have a little bit of a reputation for our road conditions. They are many times considered “severe road conditions” when discussing maintenance on cars. It not only affects the cleanliness of our air filter (from dirt roads) but road conditions will affect your cars alignment. Your car can still handle well and your steering wheel can be straight, but your car can still be out of alignment! In this case the tires can be compromised and only show the wear they have without any symptoms.  The tire wear can be monitored and notes can be taken but the wear cannot be stopped without doing an actual “ALIGNMENT”. The best time to do and alignment is when new tires are installed on your vehicle. The new tires allow the car to sit properly on the alignment machine allowing for a proper assessment of how the alignment results are supposed to affect the feel, handling and response of your car. Uneven wear on your tires will result in improper handling and response of your vehicle, even if the alignment on your car is perfect. When you invest in new tires a wheel alignment will give you the most out of your new tires. An alignment also increases safety for your precious cargo. The brakes work better and there is less stress on your car, so things are less apt to wear out. Do yourself, your passenger’s and your car and its tires a big favor, get an alignment.

 

Proper Tire Wear

Proper Tire Wear

 

 

 

Bad Tire Wear

Bad Tire Wear

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Road Trip

Road Trip

 

The sun is shining and the grass is growing, it must be driving season!  Most people travel more in the summer.  The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, let’s go somewhere!  If you are going to take a trip this year it is important that you can trust your car to get you there and back.  Car trouble will definitely mess up your road trip.  There are a few easy things that you can do that can keep you off the side of the road.

Check your tire pressures.  Most tires need to be a pressure of about 30 to 35 psi (pounds per square inch) to perform correctly.  If they are too low not only will this affect your gas mileage, but it could cause a blowout.  Obviously this can be very dangerous.  Even if you notice the tire has been running flat and has not blown yet, the tire is likely to be damaged beyond repair.  The sidewall of a tire is not designed to make contact with the road, and if it does you will have a bad tire in a very short time.  If you own an all-wheel drive vehicle you will need four tires, not one.  In addition to the safety issues, proper inflation will make your tires last longer.  Tire pressure gauges are attached to air filling stations, and you can buy an inexpensive one at a parts store or a hardware store.  If a tire is going flat you should be able to tell that it looks mushroomed out at the bottom relative to the other tires.

Check your oil.  Cars are more likely to burn or leak more oil on long trips.  Often on long trips we are on the highway, so we are traveling at high speeds for long periods of time, so oil loss is more likely.  With most cars you can check your oil when you get gas.  Pull out the dipstick, wipe it off, and then pull it out again to check the level.  If it is low add some oil.  Most cars take 5W30 or 5W20 oil, however there is a saying “any port in a storm.”  If your oil is low most motor oils will be fine.  It is ok to have it be a little overfull, but don’t get carried away!  If you are driving a Subaru you will not get an accurate reading unless the car has been off for a while.  Check it after you have stopped for a bit, maybe after eating.  It is best to check it on flat ground.  If your oil pressure light comes on take that very seriously.  If you do not stop immediately you make have a catastrophic engine failure.   If you are going on a long trip, or if your oil change is due soon, you may wish to change it before you leave.

On the subject of fluids, coolant is an issue as well.  Check your temperature gauge once in a while.  It should stay about 1/3 of the way up the gauge.  If there is a sweet smell, you may have a coolant leak.  Do not ever open a radiator cap when it is hot!  It is under a lot of pressure, and you could get seriously burned.

Fill up your windshield washer jug before you go.  New wiper blades may be a good idea if they are getting streaks.  It is very annoying to not be able to see well for hundreds of miles.

What if your check engine light comes on?  If the light comes on solid, and the car seems fine it is most likely not a serious issue.  If the car is displaying symptoms obviously you should have it checked.  Many chain parts stores will check the code for free.  Some garages (like Twisted Wrench) do not charge you to see why the light is on.  Some (garages that are not Twisted Wrench) do charge for that.  IF your check engine light is flashing on and off this is an indication of a serious problem and you should get the car checked as soon as it is safe to do so.  There are inexpensive tools available now ($60 to $100) that you can easily plug into your car to see why the light is on.

We recommend a vehicle check over before long trips if it has not been done recently.   The peace of mind is worth it, and no one wants to get half way to where ever the road is leading you.  Have a safe trip!

 

Team Twisted Wrench 

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Servicing your brakes

Servicing your brakes

What is servicing your brakes and why should you do it?  Servicing your brakes will make the brake pads and rotors last longer and work more efficiently.  When Twisted Wrench services your brakes we take the brakes apart, bead blast the caliper brackets (similar to sand blasting) which is to eliminate all of the rust and corrosion caused by the elements and road salt here in Vermont.  Then we use a special grease to lubricate the caliper sliders, and a high temperature grease to lubricate the contact points where the brake pads slide in the brackets.  Over the course of time (in Vermont especially) the salt, water,  and adverse weather conditions cause the brake pads to get stuck in the brackets and the caliper sliders to get stuck in the bores they slide in.  When this happens the pads stop making full contact with the brake rotors causing the brakes to be less efficient.  This happens gradually over time, so you may not notice that your car is not stopping as well as it once did.  In addition to the brakes not being as effective, the brake pads will wear unevenly, and the brake rotors will rust in the areas where the pads are no longer making contact with them.  Now you need brake pads and rotors.   L  Servicing your brake once a year will make your brakes last longer and work better.  This applies to disc brake systems.  All modern cars have front disc brakes.  Many cars have rear disc brakes as well, but some cars have rear drum brakes.  It is not as necessary to service drum brakes, but manually adjusting them once a year when the front disc brakes are serviced would improve your stopping power.  In theory drum brakes self-adjust, but once again in Vermont, the salt, water, and other adverse conditions prevent this from happening correctly.  Drum brakes do not have the same stopping power of disc brakes, so it is important to make sure they are adjusted correctly.

Calipar Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calipar After

Calipar After

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Twisted Wrench

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