Specialized Service for European Cars

Your import is important – if you’ve invested in a European vehicle, you’ll want to be sure it’s serviced by a mechanic well-versed in the sometimes tricky technology under the hood. Houska Automotive has purchased a new diagnostic tool that speaks your automobile’s language and allows our service technicians to pinpoint problems in your Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo or Saab. And, as always, we invest in the best as well, providing our mechanics with the continuing education they need to stay attuned with the ever-evolving intricacies of European car repair. Bring us your foreign four-wheeled friend: we have the equipment and the experts to analyze your auto.

Your European car doesn’t exempt you from good old American taxes. Houska Automotive takes the sting out of tax season. Mention our Taxman Special and receive a complimentary maintenance inspection, plus a labor discount equal to the amount of sales tax on any repairs done at that time. Available through April 30, 2011.

Houskas Honored with Hope Award

In recognition of their exceptional community contributions and ongoing philanthropic efforts, Houska Automotive owners Dennis and Noreen Houska have been selected as the recipients of this year’s Hope Award by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Colorado-Wyoming Chapter. The MS Society grants the Hope Award annually to community leaders who demonstrate a commitment to philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy.

“We believe that giving back to the community is like getting a gift ourselves,” said Dennis Houska. “Being recognized for doing something we love to do is truly an honor.”

Through popular, longstanding community events like the Houska Houska 5K and the Annual Houska Halloween Blood Drive, the Houskas have helped raise awareness and funding for blood, organ, tissue and bone marrow donations. From arranging holiday toy drives to implementing a matching donation effort for the Poudre Valley Hospital Cancer Center, Dennis and Noreen Houska continue to show the community they care – and that every citizen can make an impact.

The MS Society will present the Hope Award at the Dinner of Champions on Thursday, March 24. The public is invited to attend this honorary event.

Snowball Effect: Houska Multiplies Giving with RMHS and PVH

Houska Automotive is proud to announce the Community Care Award, created to promote generosity and local philanthropy among young people in Northern Colorado. The award from Houska will match up to $3000 raised by Rocky Mountain High School students, who have chosen the Poudre Valley Hospital Cancer Center as their charitable recipient for the project. The total raised by RMHS and matched by Houska will ultimately be matched by PVH, bringing the potential donation total to $12,000.

“We believe that if you get kids started and show them what giving means early on, they tend to give throughout their lives,” says L.J. Houska, vice-president of Houska Automotive. “We want to encourage that.” According to Houska, the students at RMHS selected the PVH Cancer Center partially in support of Garrett Karp, a student athlete from Rocky who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 and is continuing his recovery today.

“Because we don’t have a cancer center in Fort Collins, Garrett had to undergo his treatment at Children’s Hospital in Denver,” Houska says. “Not only is a trip to and from Denver a drain for someone who is sick, a place like Children’s isn’t necessarily the best fit – literally – for a kid like Garrett. When you’re a 6’5″ high school senior, the beds there just don’t accommodate you. The kids at Rocky remembered that and chose to put their fundraising efforts toward supporting a cancer center right here in town. We think it’s a terrific choice and are happy to lend a hand toward their efforts.”

Any high school student enrolled at RMHS can take part in the fundraising effort, with the big donations push for the project taking place the week of February 11, 2011 (the date of Rocky’s home basketball game against rival Fort Collins High School). Special activities leading up game day will allow RMHS students to maximize awareness and fundraising in the community. If you would like to make a donation to assist the students with their efforts, please contact Pam Kilness at Rocky Mountain High

MS Society to honor area citizens


By Pat Ferrier

A Fort Collins couple well-known for giving back to the community and a Loveland neurologis practicing in Greeley have been named this year’s Hope Award honorees and MS Champion by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Colorado-Wyoming Chapter.

Dennis and Noreen Houska of Fort Collins and Dr. William Shaffer will be honored during the society’s annual Northern Colorado Dinner of Champions on March 24 at the Embassy Suites in Loveland.

The Houskas, owners of Houska Automotive Services, Inc., 899 Riverside Ave., have long been involved in bone marrow donations, the Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation and local schools, will be honored for their community involvement.

“We try to be personally involved,” Dennis Houska said in a telephone interview.

“When you’re personally involved, it means so much more to you. It’s closer to your heart.”

The Houskas sponsor the Houska Houska 5K run each Memorial Day weekend to raise money for and sign up bone marrow donors, volunteer in the schools and are actively raising money for Poudre Valley Hospital’s cancer center. Dennis Houska also works as a volunteer bone marrow courier, ferrying needed bone marrow throughout the country on a moments notice.

“They are obviously community fixtures,” said Carrie Nolan, president of the Colorado chapter of the National MS Society.

“The way they do their giving in the community was a force that needed to be reconed with and needed to be recognized,” she said.

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system, affects more that 8,600 Coloradans.

The cause is unknown, and there is no known cure, although there are now medications that have been shown to slow down the course of the disease. Symptoms and severity of the disease vary widely from occasional blurred vision to full disability.

Weathering Winter: Driving Tips and Cold Weather Car Care

As the weather gets colder, here are some hot tips from Houska about how to care for your car and keep yourself safe in winter driving conditions:

Check and Change Fluids

Keep coolant/antifreeze levels full, as they are directly related to heater operation. Washer fluid may need to be changed out for the winter blend to keep it from freezing.

Avoid Spinning Your Wheels

Make sure your tires are in good condition, and keep in mind that four-wheel drive is meant for slick roads. Excessive use of four-wheel drive on dry pavement can cause wear to the drive train gearing. If you get your vehicle stuck in the snow, don’t let the drive wheel spin. Once the wheel is spinning, all traction is lost; if a drive tire is spinning very quickly on a slick spot, then hits a dry spot, drive train damage can take place.

Minimize Idle Time

Your engine does not need to be completely warmed up to drive – just a couple of minutes at most. Excessive idling in unnecessary and will only pollute the air. Have the car checked for leaks in the exhaust, as carbon monoxide can build up under the vehicle and then seep its way into the cab.

Watch Out for your Windshield

Snowy roads tend to mean more debris on the windshield, so make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. To keep them that way, always clear off snow and ice from your windshield by hand. The wiper system is not made to handle anything heaver then water, and attempting to use your wiper blades as an ice scraper can cause wear to the wiper motor, transmission and arms. Do not leave you wipers up in the air when it is snowing. If they fall and slam down on the windshield, there is a good chance the windshield could crack.

Make the Best of a Breakdown

Before you leave, make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you’re expected to arrive. Have more gas in your tank then you anticipate you will need for your trip, as traffic delays are more common in bad weather. If your vehicle breaks down or is stuck, stay with it. It is easier for a passerby to see a car than a person, and the vehicle provides shelter.

Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle, and make sure it includes:

  • Blanket
  • Water
  • Flashlight
  • Kitty litter for traction on slick roads
  • Jumper cables

Vehicle Emissions Testing

Emissions Testing Returns To Larimer County

Beginning November 1, 2010, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division will require an enhanced vehicle emissions test for vehicles registered in designated areas of Larimer County, including Fort Collins, Loveland, Windsor, Timnath, Wellington, and more. Aimed at controlling ground-level ozone, the emission control standards will require auto owners to submit an emisions certification when renewing vehicle registration. Houska Automotive’s L.J. Houska shares tips and answers to common questions about the new emissions testing standards and the rapid screen program that allows drivers to visit a roadside testing point.

How will I know if I need an emissions test?

Starting November 1 you will get a postcard in the mail that tells you:

  1. You need to get an emissions test.
  2. You don’t need to get an emissions test.
  3. You passed two consecutive rapid screens, so you do not need to get an emissions test.

“Only go in for an emissions test if the postcard says you need to get one,” L.J. says. “And one way to avoid having to go in is by driving through the mobile rapid screening test points. If you get two consecutive clean screens, you don’t need to go to a testing station. Gas emissions cost $25, and the testing centers are required to test any vehicle presented for testing, regardless if they need it or not. So make sure you need one before spending the money.”

L.J. points out that while you do need to register two clean rapid screen tests in order to qualify for exemption from going to an emissions station, you can’t drive through two points in one day at the same location. “There’s no penalty for completing a rapid screen, regardless of results. If you’re required to get an emissions certification, you’ll definately have to go in to do that if you don’t clear your vehicle via two rapid screen tests. So we definitely encourage people to drive through and try the rapid screens at a mobile location in order to potentially avoid a trip to the emissions testing center.”

What if I do end up needing an emissions test?


“If you are required to go in for an emissions test, there is only one Fort Collins location, at the southeast corner if I-25 and Colorado Hwy 14,” L.J. says, “but you can visit other testing locations in Colorado if that’s more convenient.”

Want to minimize wait times? L.J. says some of the better times to go in for your test are early in the morning to mid-morning, in the middle of the weak, during the middle two weeks of the month.

What if I don’t pass my emissions test?

“The emissions testers are not allowed to give you any advice about why your vehicle is not passing, but they will give you a report that indicates by what paramaters the failure occurred,” L.J. says. “Call Houska Automotive at 970-482-0156 for an appointment. Bring your results sheet with you, and we’ll diagnose the issue and work with you to resolve it.”

If your vehicle fails it is eligible for a free retest within 10 calendar (not business) days of the initial test, so don’t delay – if you’ve failed an emissions test, schedule an appointment at Houska Automotive right away!

For more information about vehicle emissions testing, visit Air Care Colorado

Giving Back Feels Good

Helping People is in Our Bones

By Becky Jensen

To say owners Dennis and Noreen Houska care about people is an understatement. They’ve been donating blood for years, and in 1994 they both joined the National Bone Marrow Registry. The very next year Dennis provided a life-saving match for a young California boy with leukemia.

But the Houskas wanted to do more. So they turned their annual Houska/Houska 5K into a fundraiser to fight cancer, and they began hosting a Halloween blood drive and bone marrow registration event.

Then Dennis rode his bike 4,500 miles across the United States two times, and cycled though South Africa twice, to raise awareness about the need for blood, organ, tissue, and bone marrow donations. And in his down time he ran a marathon to fight leukemia.

Dennis doesn’t think he’s anything special, but when prodded to explain why he does it he said,”Noreen inspires me every day, and I feel lucky I’m able to do this for people. It’s powerful. It makes life more meaningful.”

For information about the National Bone Marrow Registry, read more…

Houska Owner Takes On Bone Marrow Mission

Houska Owner Takes On Bone Marrow Mission | Houska Automotive

By Bobby Magill – – May 17, 2010

Dennis Houska, owner of Houska Automotive on Riverside Avenue in Fort Collins, has a new mission in life.

Like an undercover agent, he often plays the middle man in what sometimes seems like a Hollywood thriller-style life-and-death operation ferrying bone marrow from one end of the continent to the other.

He gets a call one day, hops a plane a few days later, makes the bone marrow pick-up on one coast, then hops another flight to make the drop on another coast – all to save the life of someone in desperate need of a transplant.

“It’s kind of ‘secret agent,’ but it’s not,” Houska said.

Having raised money to fight cancer and donated his own marrow to a save a California boy’s life, Houska signed up as a volunteer bone marrow courier for the National Marrow Donor Program last fall. Since then, he has ferried marrow across the country nine times.

As a courier, Houska is given his assignment about a week in advance. He flies into the city where the marrow donation is made, collects the donation, double-checks the donation’s codes and numbers, then races to the airport in a cab, often with his destination far on the other side of the country.

Time is precious, he said, because the recipient’s life depends on getting the donation as soon as possible.

“I did one in Lebanon, N.H.,” he said. “I had to hire a driver to take me to Manchester and then flew to Utah. I was gone three nights.”

Houska said he was on assignment in Detroit last Christmas when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to explode Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

“You could just feel the tension in the airport a little more,” he said.

The marrow, he said, is kept in a small cooler as he travels.

“You have to keep it right with you,” he said. “You can’t put it in the overhead (bin). I put it under the seat in front of me. You can’t tell people what you’re doing. You can’t tell other passengers.”

Really, he just can’t draw attention to himself, he said. If a passenger asks what he’s up to, he’ll say, but he won’t volunteer the information in conversation.

Nor can he tell the donor where he’s going or the marrow recipient where he came from.

Often, he picks up the donation from a lab and only talks to lab technicians. Sometimes, he said, he meets a donor’s family members, but he almost never encounters a marrow recipient.

“A lot of them are real curious,” Houska said.

Though he almost never gets to connect personally with those giving or receiving the marrow donation, he said he does it because he feels like he’s facilitating the saving of a person’s life.

“I’m maybe just a little link in helping somebody save someone’s life,” he said.

Since his own marrow donation saved a life, Houska has been busy raising money for the fight against cancer with the Houska Houska 5K run since then.

The next run will be Memorial Day, May 31, and proceeds from the race will benefit the Poudre Valley Hospital Cancer Center and Bone Marrow Registration Program.

Additional Facts

Local history

When their 10-year-old daughter, Laura, was diagnosed with leukemia, veterinarian Robert Graves and his wife, Sherry, of Fort Collins were ready to do anything they could to save her. They agreed to try a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor — the first ever for a leukemia patient. Laura received her transplant in 1979 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The treatment gave her an extra year and a half of life. And it inspired Graves to launch a quest to create a national registry of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow. His early efforts brought together other patient families and transplant doctors, spurring a federal mandate that led to the creation of the National Marrow Donor Program. The program began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers. Today, the registry — now called the Be The Match Registry — has grown to more than 8 million donors and more than 100,000 cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world. Source:

Fort Collins Coloradoan: Best Family Business


Family business’ roots in town run deep

By Joyce Davis —

While Dennis Houska has seen a lot of change in Fort Collins in the 31 years he’s run the family automotive repair shop, the people who frequent his business haven’t changed much.

Dennis Houska, right, his son, L.J., and his wife, Noreen, run Houska Automotive in Fort Collins. L.J. is holding a photo of his grandfather, Chuck Houska, who started the business in 1952 at the same location.

Those who need mechanical repair trust that Houska and his “family” of mechanics will treat them with the same respect and care Houska’s father gave decades ago.

It’s one of the reasons Houska Automotive Services Inc. was named Best Family Business in the Coloradoan’s 2005 Best in Business contest.

“We try to cure their transportation problems,” Houska said. “And we try to look beyond repairing the car to helping fix the other problems, such as getting a car towed, finding a rental car or arranging transportation while the car’s in the shop.”

We’ve even picked up kids from school. We have one fella here who does nothing but help people all day long.”

Houska took over the business in 1974, in the same shop where his father first opened the doors in 1952.

“We were outside the city limits at one time,” Houska said, noting the growth in Fort Collins. “Now we’re seeing a lot more people coming in from out of state and a lot less agriculture. Some of our best farmland has gone to housing developments.”

Houska’s wife, Noreen, keeps the books and “hands out the paychecks — the important part,” he joked.

Working alongside him is his son John, called L.J. “At one time we had four Johns in the shop and we were calling them Big John, Little John and anything else we could think of to keep them straight,” Houska said. “That’s how John — Little John — became L.J.”

Houska said his staff of 25 is largely responsible for the respectful service and success of the business. “They’re all more like family than employees, and they really make it work,” he said.

Giving back to the community is high on Houska’s list. To that end, he set up the Houska Houska 5K race 14 years ago to raise funds for a bone marrow registry — its name is a spoof on the Bolder Boulder race. In the summer of 2004, he bicycled from Washington state to Florida to raise awareness about the national registry.

A marrow donor himself — he donated to a 9-year-old boy in California — Houska has seen the miracle of marrow donation firsthand.

“He’s 17 now, and he comes here each year to compete in the race,” he said of his marrow recipient. “The money helps pay for (marrow) typing so we can get more people on the registry.

“When they’re not in the shop, Houska joins his wife in doing charitable work, then heads for the outdoors to bicycle, ski, hike, fish and enjoy the scenery.

Working together all day then going home together at night hasn’t been a problem for the couple through the years.

“It’s all in the communication,” Houska said. “We are respectful of each other and listen to each other’s opinions. And we don’t talk business at home … we work on our other interests.”

Originally published February 3, 2006

Houska Automotive Hosts Women’s Car Care Clinic

BECKY JENSEN • READER SUBMITTED • Fort Collins Coloradoan. OCTOBER 7, 2009

FORT COLLINS, CO Houska Automotive is hosting an encore presentation of its free Women’s Car Care Clinic on Saturday, October 17 from 9 a.m. 11 a.m. at 899 Riverside Avenue in Fort Collins.

Back by popular demand, the no-cost clinic helps women better understand cars, vehicle terminology and the language of mechanics. The event provides safety advice, builds long-term confidence and empowers women to make more informed maintenance and repair decisions.

“October is National Car Care Month, so hosting our clinic is timely,” said Houska Automotive vice president and clinic coordinator L.J. Houska. “Last month’s event was so well received that we’re hosting an encore presentation to help more women in our community better understand their vehicles.”

Two of Houska’s friendly and experienced service advisors will lead the discussion, covering everything from general maintenance to helpful tips when a car breaks down. The clinic is designed for women of all ages and abilities, and is a popular mother-daughter event. For nearly 60 years Houska Automotive has taken care of cars and their owners, so it is no surprise that third-generation L.J. Houska is leading the class with industry veteran Jerry McDonnell.

The clinic will offer refreshments, giveaways and a conversational atmosphere where participants are encouraged to ask vehicle-specific questions to gain the most out of the class.

Family owned and operated since 1952, Houska Automotive has a tradition of customer service and a deep commitment to community. For more information and to register for the free Women’s Car Care Clinic, contact Houska Automotive at (970) 482-0156 or visit them online here.


Safety, Maintenance and Repairs Discussed at FREE Class on September 26, 2009
FORT COLLINS, CO – Houska Automotive is hosting a free Women’s Car Care Clinic on Saturday,
September 26 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at 899 Riverside Avenue in Fort Collins.
The no-cost clinic is designed to help women better understand cars, vehicle terminology and
the language of mechanics. The event provides safety advice, builds long-term confidence and
empowers women to make more informed maintenance and repair decisions.
“Attending the Women’s Car Care Clinic at Houska Automotive is one of the best investments
I’ve ever made in my car,” said past clinic participant Becky Jensen. “I learned great safety tips, I’m on
top of my vehicle’s maintenance and I feel more confident talking with my mechanic.”
When she buckles her children in the back seat or fills up her tank, Jensen is grateful for her
new-found knowledge and insists, “No woman can afford to miss this clinic.”
Two of Houska’s friendly and experienced service advisors will lead the discussion, covering
everything from general maintenance to helpful tips when a car breaks down. The clinic is designed
for women of all ages and abilities, and is a popular mother-daughter event. For nearly 60 years
Houska Automotive has taken care of cars and their owners, so it is no surprise that third-generation
L.J. Houska is leading the class with industry veteran Jerry McDonnell.
The clinic will offer refreshments, giveaways and a conversational atmosphere where
participants are encouraged to ask vehicle-specific questions to gain the most out of the class.
Family owned and operated since 1952, Houska Automotive has a tradition of customer
service and a deep commitment to community. For more information and to register for the free
Women’s Car Care Clinic, contact Houska Automotive at (970) 482-0156 or visit them online here

Fort Collins Auto Repair Business Owner Bikes Across Country

Cyclist Rides to Raise Awareness About Need for Donors

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The owner of a Fort Collins, Colo., auto repair business will pedal across America this summer to raise awareness about the need for people to help others by donating blood, organs and tissue.

Dennis Houska, who owns Houska Automotive Services, will join 14 riders on a 4,000-mile ride from Seattle to Florida.

The riders will begin Aug. 25 in Seattle. They will stop Sept. 12 in Fort Collins’ Old Town Square. The ride will end Oct. 15 in Titusville, Fla., adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center.

Sponsored by LifeSouth Blood Centers in Gainsville, Fla., the ride is called Five Points of Life. The name is designed to raise awareness about the need for five types of donations that people can make: blood; bone marrow; cord blood; organ and tissue; and apheresis, which gathers red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

“It’s a really easy way to really change someone’s life,” said Houska. “There’s so little that you have to do to donate.”

Houska started donating blood in 1978 when his mother was dying of cancer. He donates on a regular basis and has even give bone marrow, a process that involves surgically removing liquid marrow from the pelvic bone.

“I donated bone marrow to an 8 year-old boy in California,” said Houska, “and now he is 16.”

In addition to making blood and marrow donations, Houska raises funds for the Rocky Mountain Marrow Donor Center at Poudre Valley Hospital by holding an annual run and walk called “Houska Houska.” This year 250 people participated in the late May event, raising $7,000.

There will be 14 persons in the Five Points of Life ride. Two are from South Africa.

“What we’re doing with the ride is to let people know how easy it is to donate,” said Houska.

When the riders reach Old Town Square on September 12, Poudre Valley Hospital’s Garth Englund Blood Center will have its bloodmobile available there from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for people to give blood. Current donors will need to call the donor center to schedule an appointment. New donors will need to contact the center for a screening.

The center is located at 1025 Pennock St. #205. Phone number: 495-8965. No walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the event.

More information about donating blood through the Garth Englund Blood Center can be found at the Blood Center web page. Information about the ride is available at LifeSouth.

For more information, contact: Kim Barone, Public Relations, (970) 495-7501 Gary Kimsey, Public Relations, (970) 495-7427


6 Cold Weather Driving Hacks I will definitely recommend them to anyone who needs a quality shop! Debbie B