Does your Mercedes vehicle have one battery – or two?

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


Do you own a Mercedes or BMW?  Then it’s important to know if the model of your vehicle has one battery – or two.

The Mercedes S550 is one model that has two batteries; one to start the engine, and another – called the auxiliary battery – to run the car.

We recently had a Mercedes S550 in the shop that was experiencing some battery issues and wouldn’t start.

“If the auxiliary battery dies, the power locks don’t work, all of the accessories that work with without the key won’t work…but the car will still be able to start,” said HomeTowne Master Technician Keith Clausson.

One of the benefits of having a two battery system is that if your car’s main battery goes dead, you still have the ability to work the locks and get into the vehicle. But, it can also sometimes be a challenge for drivers to identify the problem if they’re not aware of the two batteries.

“Nine times out of ten that battery will give you a warning when that fails, with an indicator on the dash, this one did not. So we just had to go in and test, and see why it wasn’t working,” said Clausson.

If you’re experiencing a problem with your Mercedes or BMW vehicle, and you’ve changed the main battery but there are still issues, make sure you’re checking the panel with the relay boxes in the trunk, to look at the rear auxiliary battery, or bring it into the shop for a diagnosis.

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter – what to look for

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

The colder months are approaching in Virginia, and with that cold comes snow, ice, and changing road conditions.

As a driver in the Northern Virginia area, it’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the condition of your vehicle. Especially as a driver in the Washington, D.C. area you need to be following the severe service intervals per the owner’s manual for your vehicle, in order to ensure that your car is ready year round. This is a great basic service interval to go off of, because the wear and tear on the cars from traffic and congestion. And when the seasons change, it is very important that you get some key things looked at on your vehicle, to make sure you’ll make it through the winter safely.

Here’s what we recommend that you have inspected at a qualified automotive shop, before the winter weather really sets in.

check your tire pressure monthly as the tempurature drops

Check your tire pressure monthly, as the temperature drops

Your tires.

Your vehicle’s tires need to be in good shape in the winter, as they’re what help you to brake quickly and steer through icy road conditions. If you typically use a summer tire for your vehicle in the warmer months, then it’s time to change over to an all season or winter tire, depending on your vehicle and driving needs.

In addition to potentially switching the set of tires on your vehicle, you need to also make sure that the tires are being checked for air pressure and tread depth. Your tires need to be properly inflated in order to work effectively – and prevent you from ending up on the side of the road with a flat tire. The tread depth is equally important, as worn down tires with minimal to no tread make it more difficult to brake and handle the vehicle safety in adverse weather conditions.

Your lights.

Especially with it getting dark earlier in the day, it is important that all of your vehicle’s lights are working properly, in order to ensure full visibility. You can walk around your vehicle with the lights on to check that no bulbs are blown out – grab a friend to help if need be. We can also assist you with checking the bulbs and replacing them.

Your vehicle’s battery.

get your battery checked and tested before winter sets in

Get your battery checked and tested before the winter

When it gets colder, a lot of drivers find that they have issues with their car’s battery – often in cases where you need it the most. At our shop we’re able to hook up our battery analyzer to your vehicle to test that the battery is in good condition, and that it can still produce the electrical load that your vehicle requires for starting.

We can also help to make sure that the cells on the battery are good, which can help you to avoid electrical problems with your car.

The vehicle’s cooling system.

Your vehicle’s cooling system makes sure that parts of your vehicle don’t freeze up, and that everything works smoothly. So when the winter comes, you need to make sure your cooling system has been services. The first thing you’ll want to have done is to have a technician check the antifreeze in your car. Is it the correct level? Does the fluid look dirty? What is the alkaline level? These are all things that need to be checked to make sure your cooling system is working properly.

Changing out the fluids is also an important part of servicing your cooling system before the winter season. The coolant fluid needs to have a proper mixture in order for it to work properly and keep your vehicle from freezing up. We can replace those fluids, and drivers should have their coolant inspected and changed out around every 60,000 miles as a standard.

check your cars heater and defrost controls before winter sets in

Check your car’s heater and defrost controls before winter sets in

Your heater and defroster functions on the vehicle.

While this may sound simple, going through each of the modes on your cars temperature controls with heating, air conditioning, and defrosting functions, is important to ensure that they’re working. Especially with the defrost function, you need to test this to make sure air is fully blowing air on the windshield.

Your wiper blades.

In the winter your wiper blades can take a serious beating, especially when you’re dealing with rain, ice, and snowfall. Before winter hits, consider changing out your wiper blades, and have them inspected to see if they’re still in good shape. You should be looking for small cracks or if the rubber is hard – good signs that they need to be swapped out. Also, if they haven’t been changed in one year, it is most likely time to invest in a replacement.

Your vehicle’s transmission.

replacing your dirty air filter can save money on gas

Replacing your dirty air filter can save money on gas

Regardless of what season it is, it is very important for drivers to take care of their vehicle’s transmission. You want to have the transmission inspected to make sure that the levels are correct and that there are no signs of burning – which is the wear from the friction material in the car – that could cause issues for your vehicle later.

Also, make sure you’ve got a snow brush and ice scraper, so that you’re prepared when the snow and ice does come.

Regular maintenance can save you money on car repairs

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

 

Chances are, that whenever possible, you’re trying to save money – particularly when it comes to big ticket items like car repair. While some car repair is unavoidable – like normal wear and tear on the vehicle, or getting into a road incident – there are actually ways that you can avoid major repair work. In order to do that, you need to make sure your car is getting regular maintenance.

axle-cv-joint-volvo-hometowne-auto-repair

This is why it’s important to get your car inspected regularly.

“Most repairs come from lack of maintenance,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Manager Rich Campbell.

Just like with preventative medical care, regular and preventative maintenance on your vehicle can fix problems when they’re still small, or help you to avoid them altogether.

Each time you bring your car in for an oil change – 3,000 to 7,000 miles depending on specifications for your vehicle and the type of oil you use – technicians need to do a full inspection of the vehicle’s fluids, steering, suspension, and brakes.

If the shop you’re going to now isn’t doing this full inspection with every oil change, you need to find a new shop.

This full inspection looks at all of the common places where wear and damage can start to show in your vehicle, and provides service advisors with the information they need, so they can make appropriate recommendations for your vehicle.

oil-change-auto-repair-woodbridge-virginia-hometowne-auto

Keeping your car maintained with regular oil changes and tire rotations will help your vehicle last longer.

At HomeTowne we provide recommendations ranked by level of urgency, so that even if you can’t handle all of the maintenance immediately, you can come up with a game plan.

Spending a few hundred dollars on importance maintenance here and there is far more reasonable than thousands on unexpected repairs, so make sure that you’re maintaining your vehicle and budgeting for maintenance work, so you can keep you and your car happy, and out on the road.

Getting the most out of your tires, with regular maintenance

In Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Alignment, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When one of our service advisors or a manufacturers says that you’ll get a certain number of miles out of a set of tires, do they really mean it? The answer is yes – as long as you care for the vehicle properly.

We recently had a customer come in for service with a set of Uniroyal Tiger Paw tires that we put on his vehicle all the way back in 2013. The Uniroyal Tiger Paws are made to last around 70,000 miles. When our techs pulled the car into the shop, the tires had seen 69,403 miles.

While there are always exceptions, there’s an important reason that the customer’s tires made it up to the 70,000 mile mark. And that reason is proper maintenance.

“We did alignment checks every year. We’ve aligned the vehicle couple of times over that period of time,” said HomeTowne General Manager Rich Campbell.

If you want to get the most out of your tires, you’re going to want tire rotations every other oil change if you’re using standard oil, and every 5,000 miles if you’re using synthetic oil. You’re going to want to get alignments once a year, and bring your car into the shop regularly to check for any problems.

Save yourself some money by investing in proper maintenance, and really caring for your car.

When is a tire repairable?

In Auto Shop Talk, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When you’ve got a hole, nail or tear in your tire, there’s a possibility it can be repaired.

One of our General Service Technicians from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire has some tips on how to determine if your tire is repairable – or not.

The first thing we do is a tread depth gauge of the outer, middle, and inner of the tire, to see if the tire is 4/32nds across. Then we check the tire for bad dry rot, cracks, splitting, bubbles, bulges and any objects stuck in the tire. It’s important to take the tire off of the vehicle when inspecting it, because you can’t tell the condition of the tire on the inside until you check.

Once we do the inspection, we’ll be able to determine if a tire is repairable. At HomeTowne, we follow all Tire Industry Association (TIA) guidelines when determining if a flat tire is repairable.

So, when is a tire repairable?

-When a tire’s wear is above 2/32nds

-When a tire manufacturer says patches and plugs can be used on a tire. The TIA recommends 2 to 3 patch plugs for a repair

-When damage spots to the tire are at least one inch apart

-If damage to the tire is on the middle tread

When is a tire not repairable?

-When a tire is worn down below 2/32nds

-If the tire’s manufacturer says 0 patch plugs can be used on a tire

-If there are multiple objects, tears, etc. that are closer than one inch apart

-When damage to the tire is on the outer or inner tread

Each tire and situation is different, but at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire we’re happy to take a look at your tires, and see if they’re eligible for our free flat repair.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire learn more about catalytic converters

In Auto Parts, Auto Repair Warranty, Automotive Diagnostics, Service Standards, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Walker exhaust

A Tenneco representative, which makes Walker exhaust parts, was at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire giving a class.

At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire we recently hosted an employee training with a Tenneco rep about catalytic converters, shocks and struts, and other aftermarket vehicle parts.

Tenneco is the world’s largest manufacturer of aftermarket vehicle parts.

During the training, our technicians and service writers learned some interesting facts that will help them to better diagnose and understand vehicle issues.

“We learned that 95% of the catalytic converters that are sent back – that are claimed to be not working, or malfunctioning, are actually found to be still working as designed. And that’s typically because there’s another issue that has caused the readings to indicate that the catalytic converter has gone bad – usually a misfire, or a component in the engine that is not performing like it’s supposed to. Typically people will replace the catalytic converter because they’re not trained or skilled enough to know there’s an issue that’s further up in the engine assembly that actually causes the damage to the converter,” said HomeTowne General Manager Rich Campbell.

Muffler and catalytic converter class

Auto repair shop holding classes from Tenneco at night.

A major upside of having technicians and staff specially trained on these parts is that we can potentially save our customers money. By knowing to check for things like misfires, and related problems in the engine assembly, we can potentially avoid having to replace your vehicle’s catalytic converter, which xan be a costly repair.

One reason why we’re proud to use parts made by Tenneco and their subsidiaries, is that they often the same warranty as the OEM parts already on your vehicle.

“The original equipment catalytic converter that you buy at a Toyota dealership, or a Lexus dealership, is no different, and carries basically the same warranties as the aftermarket. However, Tenneco differentiates itself and adds 125% of the precious metals the original equipment came with, therefore giving you a better, longer lasting aftermarket replacement converter,” said Campbell.

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HomeTowne celebrates National Tire Safety Week, May 29 – June 4

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

On May 29 through June 4, HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire will be celebrating National Tire Safety Week.

National Tire Safety Week is an excellent chance for you to have your tires inspected to make sure that they’re keeping you safe out on the road, or to get your tires repaired or replaced.

“It’s a reminder to make sure you’ve got your air pressure checked. You also want to make sure that any time you have an oil change that they look for anything in the tires – nails, screws – and make sure they’re properly repaired with a plug patch,” said HomeTowne General Manager Rich Campbell.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, to make sure that your tires are safe you need to check the pressure, alignment, rotation, and tread.

At our shop we offer free flat repair to all of our customers – regardless of if you bought your tires with us.

We also fill tires with nitrogen air at no charge, which is better not only for your tires, but the environment as well.

Customer review of the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp tires

In Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Our customer Ashley came to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire to replace her tires recently, and opted for the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp tires on her Mazda 3.

Here’s what she had to say about her new tires, and how they perform on the road.

“I can’t say more things about how much I love about them. When it comes to performance, these things, you know, you really feel planted. You really feel the grip in each turn. I had previous to this, Michelin Pilots, and I really enjoyed those, I just kind of wanted a little bit more of a grip with when I’m taking turns, and I was referred by Eddie here in the shop to try these out. And I was really open to trying them out, and I’m really happy. I feel a difference. I really feel like each turn I take, it’s going to take it. I think you guys in the performance industry, or just in the performance community, if you want to try some really good tires that will take each turn how you want it, these are the ones to go. And I think this is a good tire for you guys,” Ashley said.

At our shop we offer several tires for a variety of vehicles, seasons, and preferences, and the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp tires are definitely a fan favorite. They’re specifically designed to accelerate faster, corner harder, and brake quickly – even in wet and slippery conditions.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

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

Now that the hard winter months are behind us and we’re moving into spring, it may be time for you to do some ‘spring cleaning’ and bring your car to the shop for some maintenance.

Here are some seven things we recommend for your vehicle, now that spring is on its way:

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the springGet your cabin air-filter swapped out.

While getting your cabin air-filters changed regularly is an important part of regular maintenance, it’s even more important when it’s springtime, in order to keep pollen and other things in the air out of your car.

“That cabin air filter filters your pollen, the dust, and getting ready for spring you want a good, fresh cabin air filter in there,” said Rich Campbell, manager at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

 

Get your car’s fluids flushed, especially your coolant.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Radiator hose replacement at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Now that winter is pretty much over, it’s a good idea to get all of your car’s fluids checked, flushed, and refilled – especially your coolant, as the coolant keeps your car cool and working properly, as temperatures continue to climb.

“Given the fact that we’re going to start coming in to warmer weather, your car’s going to be running a little hotter because the ambient temperature’s going to be warmed up, so coolant’s a good fluid to get changed now,” said Campbell.

 

Get your tires inspected, to make sure they’re in good shape.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Brake fluid flush on Jeep at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

During the winter, driving through snow and ice can really take a toll on your tires. Having your tires inspected, to make sure that they’re still safe to drive and have enough tread on them is huge as spring rains move through the area. If your tires are worn down, you won’t be able to have the traction you need, for stopping time on wet surfaces. A few seconds may not sound like much when it comes to traction on your tires, but can make a huge difference when your stopping time is impaired.

“You need to make sure you’ve got adequate traction,” said Campbell.

If you use winter tires, it’s time to swap them out.

While many people now opt for an all season tire, if you’ve invested in winter tires for the bad weather in Virginia, then now it’s time to preserve the life of those tires, and switch over to some all season or summer tires.

Get all of your bulbs and lights checked.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Replacing tail light bulb at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

This is another part of good vehicle maintenance that you should be doing year round, but as part of your vehicle ‘spring cleaning’ it’s a good idea to make sure that all of your lights and bulbs are working correctly, and replace the ones that have fizzled out.

Get your hoses checked for dirt and grime buildup.

During the winter time, things like salt and grime can work their way into your car, specifically your houses, and cause a problem later if it goes unchecked. You don’t want to wait until you’re having a problem with your hoses, to find it was something that could have been prevented with a little maintenance.

“Dirt and grime accumulates from the winter salts we’ve endured. That salt’s pretty tough on the underside of a car,” said Campbell.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Wheel Alignment at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Get your alignment checked.

In the winter you’re bound to deal with all of the potholes that have accumulated from snow and plowing, and maybe you even ran into a few curbs during a storm. No matter what the reason is, getting your alignment checked and corrected, and having a technician check for tire wear are important parts of springtime maintenance.

The multi-point courtesy check that HomeTowne does will pick up a lot of these issues and more, and comes free with all of our standard oil changes. Be smart this spring, and make sure your car is ready to go for spring and summer road trips, not stuck in the shop for costly problems.

Get a pre-purchase inspection before buying your next used car

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

Hometown-pre-purchase-inspection-woodbridge

Pre-purchase inspections can help to spot problems with a used vehicle you want to purchase.

Are you looking to purchase a used car? Buying a used car can be nerve-wracking, even if you already know a fair bit about cars. That’s where HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire can help.

At our shop we offer a pre-purchase inspection service for used cars – perfect for if you’re planning on buying a car and want to check it out first.

Our technicians will do a thorough inspection of the vehicle, looking for any damage, system failures, problem areas and indicators of a lack of regular maintenance. We also run a test on all of the systems in the vehicle, to pinpoint any issues.

We offer different levels of pre-purchase inspections, depending on your needs and what you already know about the vehicle. With our most basic inspection we offer a state inspection-style check with an oil change, to look for problems with the vehicle.

In our more in-depth pre-purchase inspections we’ll hook the car up to our computer diagnostics and look for error codes, and check the entire vehicle’s body, frame and suspension for even minor issues that could be costly later on.

Hometowne-pre-purchase-checklist

We inspect the entire car and test it’s systems to look for failures and a lack of maintenance.

With our third level inspection check, we’ll also test all of the buttons in the vehicle to ensure that they’re working properly and do a function test that includes climate control (heating and air conditioning) which can be costly fixes when buying a used car.

If you’re interested in getting a pre-purchased inspection on a used vehicle, give our advisers at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire a call. The inspection can take up to an hour and a half, so we recommend scheduling ahead of time.

We care about our customers, and we’re hoping that getting an inspection with help you to make a decision on whether or not it’s right to purchase the vehicle you’re considering, and to help you make sure that you know what you’re getting.

It’s always good to double check, as buying any car is a huge investment. We’ve seen firsthand, with previous pre-purchase inspections, how it can save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.