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.

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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.

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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 advisor 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 on tires 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.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

In Auto Repair Promotions, Shocks & Struts, Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Yes, the winter has finally subsided with it’s cold, ice, and snow piles. But while the cold weather has gone away, the damage the winter inflicted on your cat hasn’t. With the large potholes and other damage your car has endured, it may be time to replace your shocks and struts.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Keeping your vehicle maintained will keep repair costs down over the long run.

These are 5 signs that it’s time to get your shocks and struts inspected, repaired, or replaced.

1. Your car is going in for a nose dive.

When you’re turning, speeding up, or braking, are you having more difficulty controlling your vehicle? When you’re stopping, do you notice that the ‘nose’ of your car is diving forward, even when you’re only lightly braking? That is a common sign that the shocks and struts on your vehicle are worn and need to be replaced.

2. Overall, the handling is off.

If you drive your car frequently, you know it well – how it drives, how it performs under different conditions. And if all of a sudden you’re noticing that the handling of your vehicle – maybe a bumpier or rougher ride – then chances are that your shocks and struts are in need of repair or replacement.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Suspension Strut Assembly on a car, these can start to show signs of wear around 50,000 milesYou’re hearing squeaking sounds coming from your vehicle.

3. You’re hearing squeaking sounds coming from your vehicle.

When your car squeaks, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s some kind of issue. Whether you’re just driving down the road, braking, or you’re running over a pothole or rough patch, if you’re hearing squeaking from your suspension then it’s time to bring your car in to have your shocks and struts inspected for wear.

4. There’s uneven wear on your tires.

This sign is the easiest to visually see. When your shocks and struts are worn down, there’s more bouncing and that bouncing means that your tire is also moving around as it hits the ground, losing rubber in the process. This is called cupping. If you see uneven wear or smooth patches on your tires, then it’s important for you to come in and have the shocks and struts looked at.

5. Your vehicle has more than 50,000 miles.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

A tire wear pattern like this can be due to worn shocks and struts.

While every car is different, and road conditions impact the life of car parts, if your car is over 50,000 miles and you’re having some issues, then it could be because of your shocks and struts. We follow the guidance from the Motorist Assurance Program that recommends that drivers replace their shocks and struts after 50,000 miles.

If it is time to replace your shocks and struts, the time to do it is now. Our shop is offering an inspection, repair, and replacement on shocks and struts now for only $20 over cost until April 30, 2016.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

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

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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.

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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.

Do you need winter tires?

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

Do you need winter tires?

Winter tires

Before you know it, snow will be falling and ice will be accumulating on the roads. You may be thinking that your regular tires will do the trick, and will be able to get you around safely this winter, but that may not be the case. Being in Virginia, it may not be as prone to snowy weather as other parts of the country, but it does snow here, and snow and ice can put you and your vehicle at serious risk.

Chances are that your current set of tires are either summer performance, or all-season tires. Like the name ‘all-season’ implies, you will hypothetically be able to drive with your tires in winter weather, but that doesn’t mean they’re the safest option. If you want to make sure you’ve got the best chance of avoiding crashes and damage, you need to invest in a good set of winter tires.

Let’s talk about the benefits of winter tires:

  • More traction. With winter tires, they’re designed with tread patterns that are meant to have better traction when driving on snow and ice. The more traction, the safer it is to drive on slippery winter roads.
  • What they’re made of. When it comes to winter tires, what they’re made of plays a big role in how they handle snow and ice. Quality winter tires have rubber compounds like silica and sunflower oil in the tire, which makes it ‘softer’. This softness allows the tire to maintain grip, instead of freezing and locking up, like what happens with a traditional tire.
  • Increased brake performance and stop time. You never know when an extra 10 to 15 feet of stopping time could prevent a collision, especially when there are inclement weather conditions. When you get winter tires on your vehicle, you’re maximizing your braking performance and stop time on icy and snowy roads. Recent tests on winter tires have shown up to a 35% improvement in braking capacity with winter tires, according to Tire Rack.
  • It’s a good investment. Other than the fact that you’re investing in your safety and the safety of your vehicle by purchasing winter tires, you’re also going to be saving money in other ways too. Yes, buying a set of winter tires up front is an investment. But there is nothing you can do to stop the snow and ice this winter, and when you’re driving on icy and snowy roads, it will eat up your all-season tires far quicker than winter tires. You can alternate between sets for the seasons, and extend the life of your tires overall. This in turn will save you money.
Do you need winter tires?

Winter tires have many benefits.

Now is the time to head in to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, to see what winter tires will work best for your car. You don’t want to wait until snow is actually falling, or you’ve been in a collision to make your seasonal switch over to winter tires. Our advisors are here to help, and we will walk you through all of the winter tire options that will
work with your vehicle. We carry an extensive line of quality tires, including some of the best winter tires on the market.