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The importance of wheel alignments

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

You can get the most out of your vehicle’s tires through one check.

Wheel alignments, which should be conducted once a year, can prevent premature wear.

If you notice that the steering wheel isn’t centered or that it’s pulling to one sign, you may need an alignment.

Several conditions can cause tires to get out of alignment, including potholes, curbs and suspension wear.

Most cars nowadays require a four-wheel alignment. Even though most pickup trucks require a two-wheel alignment, it’s a good idea to make sure all the wheels are checked. This will ensure that something isn’t bent.

A qualified technician will be able to see if the castor, camber and toe are within specifications. They would also be able to evaluate if you need to replace any parts, such as ball joints, lower control arms, tie rod ends, and struts.

Read about what happens during an alignment.

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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When a disc brake caliper seizes up

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A disc brake caliper seizing up is one problem that may occur in a brake system.

This issue is caused by various factors, including dirt, lack of maintenance and rust.

Rust that builds up over time can prevent the brake caliper piston from resending back into the disc brake caliper.

It will keep holding constant pressure on the brake pad that pushes against the disc brake rotor and will produce heat.

In extreme circumstances, it can actually boil the brake fluid and cause a very low brake pedal. This is one of the reasons why you want to change the brake fluid when automotive technicians are working on brakes.

When an automotive technician is performing a brake check, they can determine whether you need to replace the brake caliper. You don’t need to replace them every time, but may want to consider replacing them if the vehicle has a lot of age or miles on it.

If you’re having a problem with one disc brake caliper, you can change that one. However, it’s a good idea to replace both on the front or the rear, because if one goes bad — even though the other one is functioning — it’s not a guarantee that it won’t go bad in the near future.

Another thing that the automotive technician will do is lubricate the metal contact points of the disc brake caliper and pads.

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.

ford expedition rear brake suspension

ford expedition front wheel discolored from brake caliper siezed

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Does your vehicle have a water pump problem?

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A few signs could mean that there’s a problem with an important vehicle part.

Those who find engine coolant on the ground, notice that their vehicle’s temperature gauge is running higher than normal, or see the check engine light turn on may have water pump issue.

Water pumps help keep engines from overheating by circulating antifreeze through the engine to the radiator.

It’s recommended that motorists experiencing these issues have their vehicle checked at an automotive service center.

Technicians should do a visual inspection and perform a cooling system pressure test to determine where the leak may be.

“External leaks are easier to find than internal engine leaks, but with today’s cars being so compactly built the technician may need to remove shield and other items to see where the coolant is leaking from,” the General Manager for HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire said.

A Dodge Charger that had a leaking water pump was recently brought to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

“To address the issue, we replaced the timing chain and timing chain guides,” the manager explained. “We also used high quality valve cover gaskets to avoid future oil leaks.”

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 diagntics.

Water PumpWater Pump

 

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HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire accepting Toys for Tots gifts

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Want to help a child in need this year?

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge is collecting donations for the Toys for Tots program.

Run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, the campaign provides gifts to children who are in need.

It was founded by Major William L. Hendricks in 1947.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is accepting toys through December 14.

“We are here from Monday through Friday, 7 to 7, and Saturday, 7 through 5,” Service Advisor Jessica Ulrich said. “Come by and drop off a new, unwrapped toy for donation.”

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When is a vehicle’s tire repairable?

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Whether a tire is repairable can’t be decided at a glance.

When inspecting tires, HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire uses guidelines set by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

Injuries that are located on the inner or outer shoulder can’t be repaired, according to General Manager Rich Campbell.

“The reason why is that’s where the tire curves on the inside, causing it to flex,” he said.

The Woodbridge-based repair shop doesn’t use older plugs to address the damage. It also isn’t allowed to use patches on those that have been previously repaired with plugs.

Tires that have been punctured in a safe area could still have invisible injuries.

“We have to keep in mind too is that — even if the screw, or nail, or whatever debris … looks to be in the repairable zone — we must remove it from the rim to establish that the inside of the tire [has] not been damaged,” Campbell said.  

Automotive technicians can address some damage using plug patches.

They apply them using rubber cement, which prevents water or dirt from accumulating in the holes.

“This is a[n] acceptable and safe method of repair,” Campbell said. “This keeps the tire usable throughout its remaining life.”

Providing safe and effective repairs is a priority for HomeTowne Auto Repair.

“Please understand that, while we may make you upset because we’re not going to be able to repair your tire, we’re doing that to keep you safe, your loved ones safe, and those that are driving on the roads with you safe,” Campbell said.

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High quality brake disk, pad repair service for Audis

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When it comes to vehicle parts, quality is key.

It’s important that Audi owners make sure the parts installed on their vehicles will last.

The quality of brake disk rotors and pads can play a large role in the longevity of the repair of an Audi.

Audi owners should use a service center that is knowledgeable about how to correctly repair their vehicle.

Depending on an Audi’s make, model and year, a computer and special tools are needed to activate the electronic caliper.

With traction control, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brake components, Audis have one of the most high-tech braking systems.

Audi vehicles with hydraulic brake systems still require technical knowledge to make sure that everything works properly.

Making sure that a qualified automotive technician using high quality parts, and up-to-date specifications and procedures is vital to a driver’s safety.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire has the technicians, tools and knowledge to repair Audis and keep their owners on the road.

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Windshield wipers play large role in driving safety

In Car Safety, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A driver’s safety is largely affected by visibility.

It can be dangerous when something impedes their vision, such as a dirty windshield, according to a release.

A vehicle’s windshield wipers help clear debris and moisture, making them important safety features.

According to HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire Service Manager Joe Wood, windshield wipers should be checked regularly.

“Windshield wiper blades should be checked every oil change and for any type of safety inspection,” Wood wrote in an email. “An inspection should consist of checking channels for tears, build up, or ozone cracking (dry cracking).”

A driver’s routine, the climate they reside in, and their driving style can impact how often windshield wipers should be replaced.

However, drivers shouldn’t wait too long before replacing them.

“They wear down like any rubber component whether in heavy use or not,” Wood wrote. “So, it is always a good idea to utilize your washer fluid feature to spray the windshield and actuate your wipers to detect poor performance early, rather than later in a flash rain storm when it is too late.”

Here’s a New Year’s resolution: Take better care of your car

In Cabin Air Filter, Oil Change, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

We’re now in the new year, and it’s time to make the annual commitments to improving your body, spending more time working on something you care about, saving money for vacation, etc.

But what if you made your New Year’s resolution a commitment to taking better care of your car?

It’s a win-win – by taking care of your car, and investing in some basic maintenance items, you’re not only extending the life of your vehicle, but you’re saving money in the long run.

Here are some ways you can take better care of your car this year.

tire pressure is important to your tires lasting a long time and helps save on gas

Tire pressure is important to your tires lasting a long time and helps save on gas

Keep an eye on the tire pressure.

If the air pressure in your tires is too low, it can cause several issues, so it’s important to keep an eye on the pressure level, and keep your tires full per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

If your tire pressure is low, it can cause steering issues, which leads to abnormal tire wear. And over time, that abnormal wear means your tires wear down faster. That also means you’ll be spending money on replacing your tires sooner than you would normally.

“Buy a good tire gauge, because some of the cheap ones are like a dollar, and they may not work that well. You need to spend $5 and $20 for a good tire gauge. Therefore, you know you’ll have the correct pressure in the tire,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley.

Billingsley also recommends keeping a 12-volt air pump in your vehicle at all times. That way, if you find one of your tires is low, you can simply add air wherever you are, instead of trying to find a gas station with a working pump that offers air.

Wash your car.

washing your car underneath helps keep the metal from rust and corrosion

Washing your car underneath helps keep the metal from rust and corrosion

It sounds simple, but keeping your car washed regularly is an important part of upkeep.

“The reason you want to wash your car, especially with all of this road salt through the winter time – even in the summertime though – if you wash your car…you’re helping to remove road grime and road salts, whatever you’re picking up while driving,” said Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, when you’re driving, dirt and mud can fly underneath your car and pack in near the car’s ball joints and bushings. If moisture is left to collect there, it can rust the parts and lead to the need to repair and replace these components more often.

Replace your cabin air filters regularly.

People have started to understand the importance of cabin air filters, and how they provide clearer air when driving in your vehicle, but making sure they’re regularly changed is something you need to commit to as well.

cabin air filters clean up the air coming into the passenger compartment of a car or truck

Cabin air filters clean up the air coming into the passenger compartment of a car or truck

According to Billingsley, the key is to change them at least twice a year, depending on manufacturer’s guidance and the environmental conditions where you live.

“You really need to be changing them twice a year. And a good time to change it is right after pollen season, because it’s going to be clogged with pollen, and right before wintertime – right before Thanksgiving,” said Billingsley.

While no one’s perfect, if you commit to making even some of these changes this year, you’ll be on your way to better maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle, which will save you in the long run.

Don’t end up stranded on the side of the road this holiday season

In Automotive Diagnostics, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

tire-pressure-road-trip

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and if you’re like one of the 1.4 million other Virginians planning to travel for the holiday, or throughout the holiday season, then you need to make sure you’re prepared – otherwise you may end up on the side of the road.

According to AAA, the travel numbers for 2017 are up by 44,000 people – a 3.2% increase from the last year. In fact, they’re expecting Thanksgiving to be the most heavily traveled holiday in a dozen years. Totals for Christmas traveling may be even higher.

AAA says that they plan on rescuing more than 330,000 motorists left on the side of the road for the Thanksgiving weekend, primarily due to lockouts, flat tires, and battery issues. And whether you’re going just down the road, or traveling several hours out of state, it pays to be ready.

Here’s what you can do to prepare your vehicle for the holiday season:

  • Check the air pressure in all of your tires, including the spare tire you keep in the back. “If you end up with a flat, and you go to put the spare tire on, next thing you know the spare tire is flat,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley.
  • Check the oil level and fluid levels. These may need to be topped off to prevent overheating and other issues on that long holiday drive.
  • Make sure that you have windshield washer fluid in your wiper blades. “A lot of times when you’re driving on dirty roads, you go to use the windshield wipers, and there’s no washer fluid in there,” said Billingsley.
  • Check for any obvious battery corrosion. This could be a sign that something is wrong with the battery terminals, or that your car battery needs to be replaced before you head out of town.
  • Double-check that you have roadside assistance as part of your car insurance, or through a company like AAA. It’s easy to call the insurance company and check if you have roadside assistance in your plan. Don’t? It’s worth adding it for situations like this.

But even the best laid plans can go awry. If you’re on your travels and end up on the side of the road, here are some things you should have stocked and ready to go in your vehicle: engine-oil-level-check

  • Flares or safety triangles. If you are on the side of the road, you want your car to be visible, and make other drivers aware that you’re there for a reason, especially if you need assistance. Make sure you’re careful when placing them on the side of the road during a breakdown, to prevent being injured or hit in the process.
  • Heavy duty work gloves. “Say that your tire’s flat and you’re in the dirt or all that, or you know sometimes it might be cold, grabbing all that metal…it’s just nice to have,” said Billingsley.

And if you’re too busy to do all of the checking and maintenance yourself, consider bringing it in to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire so we can check it out before you head home for the holidays. Basic checks can be done by any windshield-washer-fluid-valvolineautomotive shop, although what they check varies from place to place.

At HomeTowne, we check the fluids and top them off, check the air pressure, check washer fluid, check the vehicle lights, rotate the tires, check the brakes, and more.

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HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire recieves volunteer award from Prince William Salvation Army

In Community Involvement, The Salvation Army by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire was recently honored for the company’s work to support the Prince William County Salvation Army.

HomeTowne employees have actively volunteer for the Salvation Army over several years, providing free maintenance service for their vans and vehicles, and have participated in their Angel Tree holiday giving program and their Fill-a-Truck gift collection program.

The award was given at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner the Salvation Army hosts in Woodbridge.

“We’re very proud to receive this award. The Salvation Army here in Prince William County has done excellent work to serve those in need in our community, and we’re happy to do what we can to help them in their mission,” said HomeTowne Owner ST Billingsley.

In Prince William County, the Salvation Army provides several important services including rent and utility assistance, youth enrichment programs, and food donations that they distribute to families weekly in Lake Ridge.