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Mercedes parts replaced after wheel falls off

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

One of our customers was driving down the road when a wheel on their Mercedes fell off.

The impact resulted in damage to the steering knuckle, which connects suspension and steering parts.

Mercedes parts
Steering Knuckle

It also damaged the hub bearing, which allows the wheels to rotate.

Mercedes parts
Old and New Hub Bearing

Charles replaced them and the brake dust shield last month.

Mercedes parts
Brake dust shield

This is one reason why it’s important to torque lug nuts correctly.

We hand torque all of our lug nuts when putting wheels back on a vehicle after completing a project, such as a tire rotation or brake repair. 

Our technicians use torque limiters and torque wrenches.

If you don’t torque the lug nuts enough, it will leave the wheel loose and ruin the wheel, the wheel studs, and wheel bearing. 

Overtightening the lug nuts, however, will weaken the threads on the wheel studs, which can cause a failure.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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All season tire from Uniroyal Tires

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When hitting the road, it’s important for drivers and passengers to feel safe.

Protection is one characteristic of the Tiger Paw Touring A/S Tire.

Produced by Uniroyal Tires, the all season tire is available for most CUVs, small and medium SUVs, and passenger vehicles.

It has a 75,000 mile tread life warranty and is reliable in wet and dry weather conditions.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Dynamic engine service addresses sludge buildup

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Engine sludge buildup is a recurring issue in some vehicles.

Dynamic engine service can help address this problem.

This service was performed on a Honda Odyssey. It was running rough and the check engine light had turned on.

We started the process by adding engine cleaner. Once the engine reached its operating temperature, we drained the oil and changed the oil filter.

Draining engine oil

Engine cleaner was added again and the engine ran in neutral for 45 minutes.

Then, our technician drained the engine cleaner and replaced the oil filter before adding new engine cleaner and running the engine in neutral for 20 minutes. 

Afterward, the oil filter was changed, and new oil and oil conditioner was installed.

Throughout the dynamic engine service, we watched the engine oil pressure. If the pressure drops, it could mean that something is blocking the oil pump suction line strainer.

Monitoring engine oil pressure

This procedure is recommended for cars that experience sludge buildup as a repeat problem.

Sludge — old, thick oil that is sticking to the engine — can get sucked into solenoids and other components, causing them to go bad.

Some vehicles are prone to sludge buildup. It also depends on the driving style.

Having proper oil maintenance performed with high quality oil is another way to prevent sludge from building up.

With today’s engine and the variable adjustable camshafts, making sure the oil ports are clear are very important. It can cause rough running conditions, as was the case with this Honda. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Rear differential repairs offered at HomeTowne

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Noises can tell us a lot about car problems.

Some may indicate that rear differential repairs are needed.

Charles recently installed a new rear differential on a 1998 Firebird.

The car was brought in when the driver noticed a rotational noise from the rear.

At first, we thought the universal joints — also known as u-joints — were the culprits, because they were older and dried out. 

U-joints connect different parts, such as the driveshaft and rear differential.

Replacing them, however, didn’t fix the problem.

After further investigation, we decided that the rear differential needed to be replaced.

Firebird

The rear differential sits between the rear wheels. It takes rotational energy the drive shaft creates and splits it to the wheels equally.

Read about how you can prolong the life of your differential and some signs it’s going bad.

We replaced the rear differential in this situation, but we also do rear differential repairs.

Sometimes axle bearings on the rear axle can go bad and make a growling or humming sound. That sound can depend on the type of vehicle and whether it’s coming from the left or right side of the vehicle.

The carrier bearings, which are attached to the ring and pinion, is a noise that people will hear in the car, especially if the pinion bearing is going bad. 

The pinion bearing is near the front of the differential, and that is where the driveshaft and the yoke of the differential connect. That’s also a common place for the front pinion seal to leak.

Another common problem is where the rear axle shaft seals begin to leak. It’s possible on some vehicles where the differential fluid could be slung around and actually get on the brake pads and rotors. 

This may reduce your braking ability — and in extreme circumstances — could catch on fire. Normally, you would just see smoke coming from the wheel, and it would stink.

Clutch packs, which can be found on some limited slip differentials or posi track differentials, can also cause some noise.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Signs that your car needs a new clutch

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Last month, a customer brought in their 2005 Volvo S60 after noticing that it wasn’t accelerating correctly.

Ray, one of our technicians, took it for a test drive and could feel the clutch slipping when he went up hill.

After checking out the car, he determined that it needed one, pressure plate, and flywheel.

Clutch
Old clutch and old pressure plate

When you push in the clutch, it releases the pressure plate and is able to spin. As you let go, it presses against the pressure plate, connecting the transmission and the engine.

The clutch, pressure plate and flywheel should be replaced at the same time. If you don’t replace the flywheel at the same time, it can leave heat marks and scratches.

Clutch
New clutch and new pressure plate

This particular vehicle had a dual mass flywheel and a self adjusting pressure plate, meaning that it required a clutch that didn’t have spring dampeners.

A high release point — when the pedal has to go a really long travel to engage — is one sign that your clutch disc is going bad.

The problem can mask itself as something else.

Every day drivers become used to subtle changes over time and may suddenly feel the transmission is going bad because it’s not engaging all the way.

It can feel like it’s not staying in gear, that the engine is running rough, or the transmission isn’t shifting properly.

Clutch
Thickness of old and new clutch

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Why is my car air conditioning not working?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

There are many reasons why a car air conditioning isn’t working correctly.

They can range from a leak to needing a new part.

A car being low on Freon, also known as refrigerant, is an indicator that there’s a leak.

Leaks can occur on rubber lines or fittings, because they undergo extreme temperature changes.

The rubber gaskets, which expand and contract, can become brittle overtime.

You should only need to recharge your car A/C if there’s a leak.

HomeTowne Auto Repair is able to recharge a car air conditioning, and we do offer air conditioning repair.

One part that may need to be replaced is the air conditioning condenser.

We installed a new one on a 2005 Acura after a customer noticed the air conditioning wasn’t as cool.

car air conditioning
Air conditioning condenser

When you turn on the air conditioning, Freon travels — as a gas — from the air conditioning compressor to the air conditioning condenser.

The air conditioning fan blows air over the condenser, cooling the Freon and causing it to turn into a liquid.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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My experience with my car’s starter going bad

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by Erin Flynn

A couple of months ago, I stopped by a gas station while I was on my way to work. When I restarted my Volkswagen Beetle, the engine didn’t turn over. 

(Ironically, this was the same gas station I was at when my check engine light started flashing in November.)

I tried a few more times. It wouldn’t start, and all I heard was silence and — several seconds later — a “click … click … click.”

All of the dashboard lights did come on.

starter
Dashboard Lights

Since my battery had been replaced within the past few years, and I hadn’t left any lights on or electronics plugged in, I ruled out the battery. I called HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire and spoke with them about the issue.

The General Manager offered to drive down to the gas station, which is in Fredericksburg, and help. A friend of mine who lives closer came by and jumped my car.

After she arrived, we attempted to jump start my car multiple times and were unsuccessful. 

I spoke to the General Manager again who gave some suggestions. He asked me to try jump starting my car again. The first attempt — nothing. The second time — nothing. The third — my car came back to life.

starter
Jump Starting Car

I brought my car by HomeTowne Auto Repair and learned that I needed a new starter, which is responsible for starting the engine.

The starter has a gear — called a bindix — that starts the flywheel by shooting out and spinning quickly.

A clicking sound is one of the signs that it’s going bad.

Sometimes, a starter will stop working without showing any symptoms.

If you’re in the same boat I was in, your best bet is to keep trying to jump start your car and check the battery. 

If you turn it over three or four times, your starter may have a flat spot and get started one time. After that, it shouldn’t be trusted.

If it still won’t start after you’ve tried jumping it, you will probably need to have it towed to a mechanic.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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What is an intercooler?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Parts of a vehicle heat up as it’s driven.

Certain components help cool them off.

Charles, one of our technicians, replaced the intercooler of a 2015 Audi A4 last month.

intercooler
Audi A4

Intercoolers are heat exchanging devices that are found on top or in front of the engine of supercharged or turbocharged cars. 

The turbo takes pressure from the exhaust. It spools up and sends more air into the air intake, creating more power — also known as “boost”. More power equals more heat.

A heat exchanger is needed to lower the intake air temperatures, which can prevent damage to the engine.

Air to water intercoolers are used on drag racing cars. Those using them will add ice to the intercooler, so the intake air temperature becomes even cooler.

The Audi was brought in when the check engine turned on. It had a running rich code. 

Charles disconnected the intake tube from the throttle body. He performed a smoke test and smoke started pouring out of the intercooler.

Some type of impact caused the air leak. When the air was passing through, it sucked in unmetered air, causing it to run rich.

intercooler
New intercooler and old intercooler

When you notice a problem with your vehicle, it’s important to share as much information as you can with the mechanic or auto shop.

These details — even the ones that seem irrelevant — can help them address the issue and get you back on the road sooner.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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How to prevent sludge build up

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Dirty oil — known as sludge — can solidify and block passages overtime.

It was found on the valve covers and solenoids of a 2012 Ford 150. 

The truck was brought in after its check engine light turned on. The customer also noticed an overall loss of power.

Lack of oil maintenance and combustion gasses that are traveling to oil can cause sludge to build up.

Deposits begin to stick to the walls of tiny passages, corners, and areas where there isn’t much oil flow. 

Proper oil maintenance and using higher quality oils can prevent sludge from building up.

We recommend having your oil changed every 5,000 miles, because we use full synthetic oil.

Read about our switch to full synthetic oil and how we’re different from other shops.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Pitfalls of buying a used car

In Auto Shop Talk by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

This is just one of the experiences we’ve had working on a used car:

Our customer had just bought a 2013 Jeep Wrangler off a used car lot at a dealership. It had cool lights and just looked nice, beefy and fun to drive.

They brought it to us after they started hearing a growling noise when driving. After checking out the vehicle, the technician found out that it was the rear differential. After a couple of other checks, we decided it was time to replace it.

We went with a JASPER remanufactured unit. While we were taking the old rear differential apart and getting ready to install the new one, we learned that the axles had been changed to off road axles that had screw-in studs we needed to find. The old rear differential also had a gear ratio that was different from the Jeep’s original ratio and the front differential ratio.

The new rear differential came in and was installed. During the test drive, the transmission would go into limp mode — which basically means that it won’t shift gears.

We spoke to the customer about this issue and they told us, “Oh yeah, it happened to us a few times after we got it. We’ve only had it two weeks.” 

As we were doing more testing, we received codes for a speed sensor problem. Speed sensors are located inside the transmission on top of the valve body. Through other testing, we found the transmission control module was not communicating correctly.

A transmission control module came in and was programmed. We experienced the same problem while test driving, but now we had good communication.

To make a long story short, we also needed to replace the transmission and reprogram the PCM back to the correct programming. This time, when we took it for a test drive, everything worked great — just like it’s supposed to.

The differential having a much lower gear ratio in the back, driving in two wheel drive helped mask the problem. Once they started having problems and couldn’t resolve them, they most likely traded it in to give their problems to someone else.

So, if you’re wondering what the moral of the story is: When you’re buying a Jeep that has been fixed up, without an accurate history of its past, you should expect to run into some problems. Maybe not as extensive as this one, but with all the aftermarket parts (we’re not saying they’re bad parts), you may not know what has been installed on the Jeep correctly or incorrectly. 

It’s definitely a good idea to get it looked over very well by a mechanic at an auto repair shop. If it’s lifted or highly modified, you may also want to go to a second shop that specializes in Jeep performance and have those components looked at.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.