Hoffman Audi East Hartford’s New Robot Featured on Fox61

MU9A0005Jim Altman, from FoxCT news, visited Hoffman Audi East Hartford on Tuesday, August 26 to see ART in action. Take a look at the Fox61 news story here.

We recently introduced you to our new “employee” named ART (Audi Robotic Telepresence). Our state of the art technology provides instant access to Audi engineers when the occasion arises that needs additional troubleshooting. You can see our recent post about ART here.

10 Easy DIY Projects to Organize Your Car

If you’re like us, between weekend road trips, days at the beach, and the constant traffic of small feet and paws, summer has done a number on our vehicles. Now’s the time to get ‘em back in tip-top shape again!

We’ve scoured the web for the best DIY projects to organize your car, and though there were many, we think these 10 take the cake. Reclaim your car interior (and your sanity!) with these top recommendations.

1. Corral Paperwork in One Fell Swoop

via Elementary Organization blog

via Elementary Organization blog

Free up precious glove compartment, floor, and seat space in favor of an accordian file that holds all of your pertinent car paperwork (think: registration and insurance papers, maps, receipts for automobile services, coupons, etc). Store your folder under your front passenger seat for easy retrieval!



2. Compartmentalize Your Kids’ Stuff


via IHeartOrganizing blog


via IHeartOrganizing blog







We LOVE this compact method for organizing all your “kid things”. Simply use mesh bags to store and visibly organize everything from games to snacks to crafts to first aid items and more. Stow it all in a sturdy basket for safekeeping and accessibility.

3. Repurpose a Dollar Store Shoe Organizer

Shoe Organizer turned Baby Organizer via Decor-ganizeCrafts.com

via Decor-ganizeCrafts.com

We were also amazed by the simple genius of this dollar store shoe organizer.

Use these small shoe organizers, which can be found at your local Dollar Store, for housing baby/toddler essentials like sippy cups, sunscreen, extra diapers, baby wipes, and more.

With everything in arm’s reach, you can put the kibosh on any mishaps before they occur.




Car trash idea via Budget101.com

Car trash idea via Budget101.com

4. Use a cereal canister as a mini trash receptacle

Line a cereal canister with a plastic shopping bag and VOILA! You’ve got makeshift trash bin.

Wrappers and receipts on the floor? Not anymore!

And it’s so easy to just remove the plastic bag and get rid of the trash. Even a kid could do it…..maybe! (probably depending on their mood…)




Reuse coffee creamer canisters as snack containers (via StockPilingMoms.com)

via StockPilingMoms.com

5. Simple Snack Storage

There’s nothing worse than a cranky, hungry kid (or adult, for that matter) when you’re stuck in traffic.

Keep hankerings at bay by storing snacks in your car. Use a leftover CoffeeMate creamer for holding small munchies like Cheerios or Goldfish. The pourable spout makes noshing a breeze. Keep items fresh with the snap of a cap!




via Lookie What I Did blog

via Lookie What I Did blog

6. Fast Food Caddy

For those crazy-busy days (e.g. long days at the office, road trips, shepherding kids to and from sports practices and lessons) that necessitate a down-and-dirty fast food run, this shower caddy-turned-meal holder is fantastic.

You’ll never have to worry about finding that rogue, months-old french fry buried in the seat again!



via Tater Tots and Jello blog

via Tater Tots and Jello blog

7. Shopping Bag Central

Use empty baby wipe containers to store your surplus shopping bags (because let’s face it, they ALWAYS come in handy).

Just  stick on some cute contact paper and throw it in the glove box for safe keeping!



via MeMakeyThings.com

via MeMakeyThings.com

8. Organize Your Console

A desk or purse organizer easily doubles as a console command station.

Use this handy organizer to keep your wallet, phone, lip gloss, lotion, brush, and other necessities right where you need them – no fishing necessary!



via Power Home Solutions blog

via Power Home Solutions blog

9. Harness the Power of Command Hooks

Command hooks – aka one of the greatest organizing inventions known to man – need not be restricted to only home projects.

Use them inside your car to keep your purse, umbrella, and shopping bags in order.






via Life of a Modern Mom

via Life of a Modern Mom

10. Be Prepared for Emergencies

And last but not least, ward off anything that comes your way by creating your own Car Emergency Kit. All you need to make yours is a clear plastic container and lid (find one at Target, Wal-Mart, etc) and a label maker. Here are some ideas for items to include: flashlight, batteries, duct tape, general First-Aid kit, matches, hat/gloves/socks, jumper cables, tire gauge, Swiss Army knife, hand warmers, blanket, water bottles, kleenex, poncho, glow stick, hand sanitizer, etc).

So what are you waiting for? Start spinning those DIY wheels and you’ll be in organized car heaven before you know it!

Hoffman Pioneers New Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART)

ART (2)__mid

Meet ART, our new virtual team member at Hoffman Audi in East Hartford! (photo: audiusanews.com)

Hoffman Audi of East Hartford has a brand new, state of the art robot – one of only about 40 in the entire country. With this new technology, our Audi technicians will be able to quickly diagnose and troubleshoot repair issues using a one-on-one virtual link that connects them to the expert technicians at Audi of America.

It’s Bringing The Pros to Our Service Bays

Called ART (Audi Robotic Telepresence), this innovative technology is the first of its kind in the region and also among automakers. Using this telepresence, it’s like having those national experts stand right next to our own technicians, helping to service vehicles as if they were right in East Hartford.

The system is remotely controlled and displays the operator’s face on a screen while it agilely moves around a vehicle. Using the attached borescope and handheld camera, the operator can even inspect engine components and other difficult-to-reach parts of the vehicle.

Audi of East Hartford Service

Elliot Matos, Service Manager, Audi of East Hartford

In a recent article on this new robot, the tech gurus at Wired.com say, “It may be a great way to improve customer service, a testament to just how complicated upscale German cars are to repair …”

Elliot Matos, Audi of East Hartford Service Manager, is enthusiastic about his new virtual team member.

The Future is Here

ART will improve service speed and accuracy for customers, and will also report technical topics directly to Audi factories. The concept for ART was developed by the Audi Technical Support team in conjunction with VGo Communications, Inc., a provider of robotic telepresence solutions for healthcare, education, and the workplace.

ART is the first venture into telepresence for Audi dealerships, and research is already under way to develop new tools and accessories that expand on ART’s (already impressive!) capabilities.

Watch ART in Action

It’s Brake Safety Awareness Month – Ensure YOURS are in Top Form

brake safety awareness month

Photo courtesy of the Motorist Assurance Program

August has arrived (we can’t believe it either!), signaling the end of summer vacation and the beginning of school in just a few short weeks. It’s also Brake Safety Awareness month, and there’s no time like the present to get yours checked – especially if you’re planning to hit the road for one last vacation “hurrah” as a family before school starts. To ensure everyone’s safety and avoid any unwanted surprises, don’t leave town without a proper brake inspection.

Says Hoffman Ford Service Manager, Mark Mandirola, “Brakes should obviously always be at the top of your vehicle safety checklist because they are what stops your vehicle. But it’s especially critical that you confirm yours are functioning properly if you’re about to embark on a long driving excursion. City driving, stop-and-go traffic, emergency braking – and the weight of the pay load, in the case of trucks – all accelerate wear and tear on brakes, so you definitely want them operating in optimum condition before you leave town.”

Brake Maintenance Guidelines

According to Mandirola, there’s unfortunately no “set mileage” for replacing your brakes, but it’s good standard practice to get yours inspected every 10,000 miles. New brake pads usually measure about 12/32nds, and when the brake pads get low their strength begins to deteriorate and the brakes become less reliable. Mandirola suggests, “If your Service Advisor informs you that there is less than half the life of your brake pads remaining, you should bring your vehicle in for more frequent maintenance inspection.”

The Rundown on Brake Inspection

So what happens when we do a brake inspection at one of our Hoffman service centers? We start by removing your vehicle’s wheels to get an accurate measurement of your brake pads. Then we inspect the pads, rotor condition, and the condition and movement of the calipers.

“We typically recommend replacing brake pads when there is about 3/32nds material remaining,” Mandirola says. “When we replace the brake pads, we always recommend machining or replacing the rotors at the same time; this is because brake pads wear into rotors over time, which can lead to brake pulsation and/or excessive brake noise.”

Tell-tale Signs Your Brakes Need Immediate Attention

Get your brakes inspected right away if you notice any of the following warning signs:

- Excessive squeaking noise when braking (intermittent squeaking is not necessarily an indicator)

- Brake pulsation felt through the steering wheel when braking

- Excessive brake dust on rims

How to Prolong Brake Life

To get more mileage out of your brakes, Mandirola recommends starting the braking application sooner when coming to a stop and to avoid riding the brake pedal when going down hills. Check out this helpful article from Edmunds.com for more ways to make yours last.

Before you put the pedal to the medal to enjoy the final dog days of summer, take a break (pun intended) and make sure your vehicle’s brakes are up to par. Contact us today to schedule your brake inspection.

UnWINEd this Weekend: Experience the CT Wine Trail

courtesy of ctwine.com

courtesy of ctwine.com

Enjoy a glass (or two) of wine from time to time? Looking for a fun way to experience Connecticut with your special someone or friends this weekend? Summertime is THE TIME to check out the unique vineyards that comprise Connecticut’s Wine Trail.

Made up of 25 wineries offering everything from robust barrel aged reds to crisp, bright whites to local fruit-infused wines, the Connecticut Wine Trail is one of the most exciting and fastest growing wine regions in the United States. Whether you’re looking to start your trip in the Litchfield Hills, along the coastline, in the “Quiet Corner”, or along the Connecticut or Housatonic Rivers, you’re no more than a 45-minute drive from a vineyard. Visit a few and you’ll notice the unique flavors each geography has to offer and the stunning scenery it’s situated on.

But first, a brief history:

Connecticut’s early English colonists were avid wine drinkers, but viticulture – the science, production, and study of grapes – wasn’t successfully practiced until the nineteenth century. In 1978, commercial wineries were permitted in the state with the passing of the Connecticut Winery Act, and soon after wineries throughout the state began to cultivate and grow grapes on a large scale. In 1988, Sherman P. Haight of Haight-Brown Vineyards conceived of the Connecticut Wine Trail, which instantly gave greater prominence to this agricultural sector and increased wine and vineyard awareness.

Haight-Brown Vineyards courtesy of ctwine.com

Haight-Brown Vineyards courtesy of ctwine.com

Geographically, the wine trail route is split into two regions – the eastern and western trails – which wind through a series of historic towns and villages from Litchfield County to the Long Island Sound. The wineries along the trail grow everything from Chardonnay and Merlot to Riesling and Cabernet Franc – some even produce sparkling options and ciders.

Chamard Vineyard courtesy of ctwine.com

Chamard Vineyard courtesy of ctwine.com

In the mood for a little more than wine? Dine at Chamard Vineyard’s new restaurant, Farm Winery Bistro – one of Connecticut’s two wineries boasting a restaurant and recently voted “Best New Restaurant” in New Haven Living Magazine’s Reader’s Poll. Feeling adventurous? Join the folks at Dalice Elizabeth Winery for their standing Thursday night “Wine-a-roke” (5 – 8 pm) and a glass of their “Sizzle Merlot”, more commonly known as their Chocolate Chili Merlot. Just trust us on this one.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on around the state this weekend:

Thursday, July 31

From 5 – 7 pm, enjoy Saltwater Farm Vineyard’s Summer Music Series, with music this week by Zak Sheffer. Local oysters shucked by Dave the “Oyster Man” will be available. 349 Elm Street, Stonington, CT 06378.

Friday, August 1

Unwind on Friday evening at Priam Vineyard’s UnWINEd concert series (6 – 9 pm), where you can take in the sunset with live music, wine, and food. Purchase tickets at the winery or on their website. 11 Shailor Hill Road, Colchester, CT 06415.

Or pack your own picnic and head on over to Stonington Vineyards for their Summer Music Series – this week featuring Ian Kelly Jazz from 6 – 9 pm.  Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door, and the show goes on rain or shine. 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, CT 06378.

Gouveia Vineyard courtesy of ctwine.com

Gouveia Vineyard courtesy of ctwine.com

Saturday, August 2

Take a free wine tour of Gouveia Vineyards between 2 and 5 pm (Saturdays & Sundays) and learn how they make their wine. Stick around for some wine out on their back patio, and don’t forget to pack a snack! 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Sunday, August 3

Stop by Sunset Meadow Vineyards for wine and live music from The Goods from 1:30 to 4 pm. 599 Old Middle Street, Goshen, CT 06756.

Sunset Meadow Vineyards courtesy of ctwine.com

Sunset Meadow Vineyards courtesy of ctwine.com

Reservations are needed for wine tasting, though large parties are urged to call in advance. Most wineries offer wine tours – if you’re planning to take one, your best bet is to call ahead of time for their tour schedule. Making it an all-day event? Be sure to grab a “passport” from one of the wineries on the trail and get it stamped at each stop along the way – once you obtain 16 stamps (no, we are NOT suggesting you visit 16 wineries in a day!!), you can enter to win valuable prizes, including a grand prize trip to Spain.

Enjoy the splendid wine and natural beauty of the Nutmeg state, and remember: if you’re planning on making a few winery stops, it’s a good idea to designate a sober driver (make sure they get to imbibe on the next trip when someone else is designated driver!). Safety on our Connecticut roads always needs to be priority number one. We’ll cheers to that!